Panel Optimizing Software for Cabinetmaking

Panel Optimizing Software Saves Time and Money

One of the features built into the Shop and Professional versions of SketchList 3D is the material optimizing function.  The material Optimizer provides layout diagrams for both sheet and solid lumber materials.  I have been told many times the optimizer saves more than the cost of the software in terms of materials saved!

From time to time we get emails or phone calls from people who have lost their way and using this feature. It generally shows up as a series of red boxes around the part names in the optimizer and the refusal of SketchList 3D to provide the layout diagrams.

Actually it’s a matter of developing a slightly better understanding of the process by which boards are used for both design and production. In earlier versions of SketchList 3D we use to have the user select the material size as a part of the design process.

This provided a great degree of control over the process – but was not so effective if a board needed to be cut from a material other than that size which had been specified.

If you wanted to take a board say for example a rail make it 2 inches instead of 1 1/2 inches – which you had already specified – and you would assign a 1 1/2 inch piece of stock to that rail in order to change from 1 1/2 to 2 you had to go in and change the stock as well.

In Version 4 of SketchList 3D we re-thought the way the optimizer relates to the design process.  The conclusion was that during the design time there should be no constraint from the material size from which the board was going to be cut. These types of restrictions can either affect your willingness to explore different design options or take more time to correct in retrospect.  So now the definition of material is basically a name and a texture.  There are other things like the amount of transparency — but the basic is texture and name.  This allows you the ability to design with any size board.

Eventually, if you are going to optimize the material layouts cutting for your shop, you do need to come back to entering material size for a particular material. We call this stocking that material.   Basically stocking a material simply means picking a material used in your design and assigning it a depth, width  and thickness to that particular material.  There are more things you could do, for example  provide the vendor’s name and cost for the material but that’s optional.

One of the most common causes of the red boxes showing in the optimizer preparation panel is that either the materials have not been stocked or they haven’t been stocked correctly. This might mean that you forgot to enter the thickness of material or perhaps even entered the wrong grain direction. So if you come into that type of problem check your material stock.

There are two sources of information on this subject.

You can find this under the help menu item in SketchList 3D.

Here is a video showing how to fix the project – optimizing layouts – for the customer.









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