Software for Automated Cutting Systems
The software required to run an automated cutter falls into two main parts; the software to create patterns ready for cutting and the software to nest or compact these patterns into the most economical length of material and send this data to the cutter. The software required to create the patterns is called CAD or Rapid Patterning software and the software to nest and send the patterns to the cutter is called nesting and cutter control software.
There is no programming involved when you use an Aeronaut automated cutting system!
With wood and metalworking CNC machines, there can often be quite a lot of work to do between exporting a design and actually pressing the go button on the CNC machine. This is often called "post processing'. This is often followed by a fairly lengthy time spent programming or setting up the CNC machine… many minutes to several hours.
With most automated cutting systems and certainly with Aeronaut cutters, there is NO post processing. A CAD file can be ready to cut in just a few seconds after exporting it because there are no tool offsets to worry about… blade, laser and ultrasonic cutters cut the shapes in the design files down the middle so very little setup is required between importing a design and starting to cut.
Rapid Patterning Software
Many industries which use single or low ply automated cutters, cut each pattern only a few times or perhaps just once, so it is important that design-to-cut times are very low. That's why rapid patterning software is so important.
Some industries such as sail making, paraglider manufacture, window furnishings etc. have highly specialised industry-specific software which can export patterns which are 100% ready to cut. All the details such as seam allowances, pattern numbers, markings, punches, creases etc. are output with little or no direct user intervention.
In other industries, where there is no dedicated stand-alone software, rapid patterning can be done with plug-in tools which run inside a CAD program, reducing the design-to-cut times down to seconds. Examples of include a very wide range of products including caravan awnings and annexes, fabric bags, tents, truck curtains, pool liners and covers and most packaging designs.
Nesting and Cutter Control Software
Nesting software compacts patterns into the most economical length of fabric and organises the queue of patterns ready for cutting. In most cases, once the patterns are nested, they are ready for cutting but in some cases it is necessary to sort the cut order, cut direction and tool order before pulling fabric onto the table and pressing the cut button.
Aeronaut's Tangent software handles these repetitive tasks with templates. The operator selects a template which relates to the fabric they are using. This sets cut speeds, tool order, tool pressure, nesting gaps etc. and greatly streamlines process of getting patterns ready to cut.
Nested patterns can be saved for reuse but the process of importing patterns into a template and nesting may only take a few seconds to a minute so the design to cut time is minimal, especially since Tangent's multi-tasking environment lets you open, import, nest and cut at the same time.
For the full story on software for rapid pattern development and Aeronaut's Tangent nesting and cutter control software, see the links in the top menu or alongside.