Improving Cut Part Quality with Cut File Preparation Software
Do you currently use or are you considering purchasing a computer-controlled automatic cutting system to cut single ply or low plies of flexible goods? If so, you may need better control over your electronic cut file (CAD) data and you might realize tremendous improvements in cut part quality using CutWorks® cut file preparation software.
A Modular Approach to Improving Cut Part Quality
CutWorks is a software system that serves two functions. Not only is CutWorks the graphical user interface for most of Gerber Technology's single-ply cutters, but it can also be used as cut file preparation software for virtually any other automated cutting system on the market, both Gerber's and others.
CutWorks is a "module-based" system – meaning you only purchase the modules you need. Do you require only basic editing commands like converting notches, resizing text, or converting circles to points? Or would you like to change or edit the cutting sequence of both the data within an individual part and the sequence of the parts within the marker? Do you have a need for a manual nesting or automatic nesting solution?
Optimize CAD Data for Cutting
With even just a modest CutWorks configuration of Base module and ToolPath module installed on your existing CAD computer, offline from the cutter itself, you can use it to fine-tune the CAD data that you are sending to your cutter. Perhaps your CAD data originated from hard patterns that were manually digitized to convert them to electronic data and they contain more data points than necessary. Or maybe your data was designed from scratch using a CAD system, but the data is not as "clean" as it could be. Maybe there are particular areas of certain files that do not cut well. Maybe the material moves when it starts cutting a part near the edge of the material. Does any of this sound familiar?
With CutWorks, you can automatically remove extra vertices. Many people will insert vertices even where they are not needed when manually digitizing a hard pattern to create an electronic version. For example, if your part has a straight line along one side and a curved line along another side, the person digitizing may need to insert many vertices to have it accurately follow the curve, but with the straight line, it only needs two vertices, one at the start of the line and one at the end. Adding additional vertices in the middle only guarantees that your line will not be straight, as it's impossible to manually place vertices in a perfectly straight line. If this is the case, the "remove extra vertices" feature within CutWorks can be used to automatically remove any vertices that are not needed.
Prevent Material Movement During Cutting
Maybe your material tends to move when the first piece near the edge is cut. You can always set your origin deeper into the material, but this wastes material. You can also use masking tape to ensure that the material does not move near the edge, but this too is a cost in both hard dollars and time. With CutWorks, you have full control over both the direction of cut and the start point. So instead of a part starting at the corner closest to the material edge and moving away from the edge, which will tend to drag the material, you can change the start point to an inner corner, and make sure that the part cuts toward the edge, which, many times, will prevent the material from moving, resulting in a improved cut part quality.
Reduce Cutting Times
Maybe you have notches or internal cuts (punches or other internal cutouts) that aren't always in the correct location. Is your system cutting the perimeter of the part first, and then processing the internal data? This can lead to the material shifting or moving slightly since the part is already cut free from the material before the cutting system cuts the internals. A better approach is to first cut the internals and notches, and then cut the perimeter of the part. With CutWorks and the ToolPath module, you have full control over the exact order of cutting of both the data within individual parts (notches, punches, internal cut-outs, penned lines or text, perimeter, etc., etc.) and the order of parts within the complete nest. Not only can changing the cut order improve cut part quality, but it can also reduce the total cut time by following a more efficient path. Saving only 20 seconds on a marker that may take 15 minutes to cut can save over 30 hours a year of cut time!
These simple, common sense improvements to cut files are easy ways to improve cut part quality and productivity. And we haven't even broached the topic of automatic nesting. Nesting is where the real savings are usually realized. This is a topic for my next blog post. Until then, consider what types of cut file issues you are commonly encountering and imagine what CutWorks can do for you.