When working with subtractive digital manufacturing tools like laser cutters and CNC machines, being able to get the most out of your materials can save you a lot of money. Summoning your Tetris skills can help you stack your items closely to help minimize waste. This can take a lot of time though, when trying to place a large number of parts. A new application called SVG nest can help automate that process — making it simple and fast.

SVG nest requires that all parts be placed in one SVG file that also includes a container box. This box should be the same size as the material you are going to be using (if you are cutting a piece of 1′×2′ birch ply in your Epilog laser, make a 1′×2′ box). Upload the SVG file with your container box to SVG nest, which will show all of your parts laid out, allowing you to pick the container box and hit the “Start Nest” button. SVG nest will then begin its first attempt in placing your parts as closely together as possible. The coolest part of SVG nest is that it won’t stop there. The software uses what is called a genetic algorithm to continue trying to find new arrangements that will increase the quality of the placements. I would love an upgrade to allow DXF files to be used also, but this is a great start.

The next time you finish your next laser cutter, CNC machine, or desktop cutter design, give SVG nest a try and see how much material you can save.