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How to optimize material usage in tube laser-cutting

Sep 8, 2021 7:17:18 PM

One of the crucial aspects of batch preparation for tube laser-cutting is the choice of bars for nesting. Material is the main cost factor in a work order and so its optimal management is essential to achieve a positive profit and yield.

With this crucial factor in mind, BLM GROUP has developed ProTube, for nesting, preparing production batches and monitoring them. The software implements advanced functions to make the best use of raw material at all stages of processing (supply, nesting and processing).


The best nesting for all situations

According to the availability of tubes or section bars, ProTube suggests different nesting configurations to optimize material usage and identify the most effective production strategies.

LT14 / LT24 - Discover the applications



Nesting on tubes or section bars of the same length

Using tubes or section bars of a single defined length is particularly advantageous for large batches or large available stocks.

In this case, ProTube allows you to select the specific length of the bar bundle and automatically launch the nesting of the parts to be made. The technological options can be used, if necessary, to choose the unloading side in advance according to the type of item or to maximize production efficiency and simplify the machine operator's task by setting the processing parameters of the Lasertube system that will be used for cutting.


Nesting on tubes or section bars of the same lengthLoading tubes of the same cross-section, material and length on an LT24 Lasertube system for large pipes and section bars. ProTube can optimize batch nesting, reduce material waste and facilitate part unloading logistics.




Nesting on tubes or section bars of different lengths according to availability

Subcontractors and anyone accustomed to handling small, diverse orders will know that procurement is critical, and the variability of available material can be extensive. In this context, modulating nesting with different bar lengths is essential to exploit the residues of previous jobs or to make optimal use of stocks resulting from acquisitions made overtime or a direct consequence of the supplier's availability at the time of purchase.

In these cases, ProTube provides a simple and effective solution for handling complex situations, like the production of numerous small batches or using varied and limited stocks of bars of different lengths.

The software can be used to set up the nesting to take into account different quantities of tubes or section bars of different lengths (including pieces from previous jobs) and the priority to be assigned to the sets of bars defining which assemblies to process first.


Lasertube bar codesWith ProTube, you can prioritize sets of tubes or section bars to define which assemblies to process first eliminating waste from jobs or utilizing warehouse stock.




Choosing the optimum material length for a production batch

To help choosing the optimum bar length in terms of the best part distribution, maximum reduction of waste and associated costs, ProTube has a simulator that can be used to identify the material occupancy of a production batch on bars of different lengths.

A specific nesting operation is determined by varying the bar length parameter, in particular by identifying the number of tubes required, the overall waste (differentiated between scrap between parts and end-of-bar scrap) and the cost associated with the material required. In this way, you can check which configuration is best to identify the optimum material you need and to reduce waste.


Job dashboard solutionWith ProTube, you can simulate the material usage of a specific nest by varying the bar length parameter, in particular by identifying the number of tubes required, the overall scrap and the material cost.


The importance of traceability in material management

In production, the traceability of incoming tubes is crucial to select the tubes to be processed for a specific job and supply the Lasertube system. Not all bundles are the same. The choice of which bars to use can be determined, for instance, by quality, origin, type of alloy, casting code, type of supplier, or on the direct recommendation of the end customer.

With ProTube, you can identify the bar bundles involved in nesting and track the material feeding the Lasertube cutting systems, assigning codes to the bars that can be used by the machine operator either directly on the CNC or, alternatively, in printable reports.

Learn more about the BLMelements suite of software for programming tube processing


Specific ProTube functions to optimize material usage in tube nesting

ProTube has a wide range of technological options for setting up the optimal nesting configuration according to specific production requirements, exploiting the synergy with the Lasertube BLM GROUP machines.

The waste reduction and waste advance options allow specific machine cycles to be selected from the office which, by exploiting particular movements of the steady rest and spindle of the BLM GROUP laser cutting systems, enables the material waste to be further reduced.

Lastly, the common cut option makes it possible to eliminate intra-piece waste by cutting the two faces of adjacent workpieces, e.g., workpieces with straight or complementary ends, using a single cutting path.


Cutting adjacent parts on laser tubeJoint cutting carried out on Lasertube LT8.20 system.


The convenience of exploiting stock from end-of-bar scrap

Nesting may not always be able to distribute the pieces evenly and, in particular, the last bar may not be fully utilized. Reuse of production scrap involves a certain logistical effort (handling the scrap, putting it on the shelves, updating the warehouse software, etc.) and takes up storage space waiting to be re-used in a future compatible order. In some cases, it may be more profitable to eliminate the end-of-bar scrap by making extra pieces for inventory.

ProTube meets this requirement with the surplus option that can be used to define a maximum number of extra pieces per item type that can be obtained from surplus end-of-bar material.


Simulation of material use in tube laser cutting nestingNesting performed with ProTube.


Machine intelligence

Once the job is ready, it can be transferred to the machine immediately with a simple click of the mouse. However, the material on the machine may differ from that planned (slightly different lengths, material not of high quality) and consequently, the cutting layouts and the total number of pieces made may change.

ProTube collects these variations from the machine and displays the layouts actually produced by the Lasertube in graphic form (precise lengths of bars used, cutting layout actually used, total good parts and rejected parts). This means being able to keep track of the order and to monitor the process by comparing the performed nesting to the designed one.


Production nesting on Lasertube screenshotProTube receives the cutting layouts actually produced from the BLM GROUP Lasertubes and displays the variations compared to the programmed nest, keeping track of the actually produced jobs and the actually processed material.


With its multiple functions, ProTube is an extremely powerful tool that can optimize production by reducing waste and maximizing profit, but its functions do not stop there. From integration with the company's ERP system to real-time monitoring and management of other BLM GROUP tube processing plants, ProTube is the key enabler of industry 4.0 production.

Find out more about the ProTube software


industry 4.0 tube productionProTube allows real-time management and monitoring of BLM GROUP tube processing plants, acting as an enabler of Industry 4.0 applications.