Posted on

Import bulk stock quickly into SigmaNEST


  • Are you spending too much time manually updating your Sheet Stock List instead of generating nests with SigmaNEST?
  • Well here is the solution for you, the following steps show how to efficiently and effortlessly enter a high number of stock sheets into SigmaNEST making use of excel spreadsheets.



To make it even faster next time around this file as a template which you can re-use.



After quickly typing in your stock you must save the excel spreadsheet as a CSV (Comma delimited) file.



Once you have saved the file as a CSV (Comma delimited) file, you should right click the file and select open with “Notepad”. Now remove the very first row which consists of the headings.


Save the file as a .txt file (SigmaNEST is setup to import a text file).



In SigmaNEST in the Sheet List Inventory select “Import”, you can then browse the location where you saved the text file.



Now the import is complete. You will see that all your stock has been imported into inventory.



With all the time that you have saved with this technique of importing materials, you will have much more time to focus on nesting and generating NC files to keep your machines, busy cutting all your new material.

Posted on

2018 Sasol Solar Challenge


Today we are sharing the incredible journey of Tshwane University of Technology, 2018 Sasol Solar Challenge.


With the aid of Solidworks for design, Robotmaster for offline programming and Mastercam to generate toolpaths, all supplied by Mecad, TUT was able to achieve cut out moulds as efficiently and effectively as possible, this would in turn lead them to the design and construction of a successful Solar Car.

Kyle Brand Lecturer Industrial Design Program

Tshwane University of Technology, Top South African Team in the 2018 Sasol Solar Challenge

The Sasol Solar Challenge takes place every second year and is an endurance challenge to see who travels the furthest using only energy from the sun. Teams from around the world design and build solar powered vehicles that follow a route across South Africa over eight days.


TUT’s Sun Chaser 3 performed exceptionally well at the Sasol Solar Challenge 2018 with an impressive 2397km covered over 8 days between Pretoria and Stellenbosch despite heavy rains, days with wind gusts well over 100km/h which led to heavy damage to our car and solar array as well as a major fault in our battery pack on day 2. Nevertheless, the Sun Chaser 3 team endured and still managed to top the leader board at 1st place among local teams and a 4th place overall. In addition, the Sun Chaser 3 team has been awarded with the African Spirit Award, the most kilometers covered by a South African team in one day, as well as the prestigious ISF (International Solar Federation) achievement award for exemplifying the mission of the ISF by raising awareness of the imperatives of sustainable transport through innovation, and promoting the concept of “Brain Sport”.


Sun Chaser 3 was conceived and built by staff and students at the Tshwane University of Technology. Building Sun Chaser 3 was a balance of doing as much as we could ourselves to maximise the learning for the students, but still forming partnerships with industry for gaining specialised knowledge and utilising specialised equipment.

The body of the car was designed with Solidworks using surface modelling techniques. Once the main form was developed it was then split into moulds which would be cut. We decided to cut female moulds directly from the 3D model to save time and money.


In order to cut the moulds, we used an old Kuka Robotic arm that was originally acquired by Horst Weinert when establishing the Mechatronics program at TUT. The Robot arm was set up in an area known as “the dam” (historically it was a dam until the labs changed) with a spindle attached to the end. In order to accommodate the large size of the moulds, a movable rail was built by students. This rail was motorised and integrated with the Kuka control system. The rail actually moves all the way out of the door to allow us to have a cutting area of approximately 5 meters long, 2 meters tall and 1.5 meters deep. Using Mastercam and Robotmaster the code was generated for each mould and loaded onto the Kuka for cutting.


The cutting of the moulds was a steep learning curve for everyone involved, from staff to students. With seven independent servos, the setup is complex and many details needing to be worked out for each mould. But as the cutting progressed the team acquired the skills and cutting became a faster and more streamlined process. We are now looking forward to cutting new moulds for the next solar car in the coming weeks.

After the moulds were cut, they were used to do carbon fibre layup. Slowly the entire car was built and assembled. The whole process of building the car took only three months before testing and racing began.

During the challenge the car performed very well, on day one we were poised to do more than 500kms, before disaster struck. A strong gust of wind ripped the top of the car (the solar array and canopy) off and threw it into a field next to the road. Having suffered extensive damage and a brutal storm in Kroonstad that evening the team pulled together and rebuilt and repaired the car. By 10:30 the next morning we were back on the road. With some more minor repairs over the next few days the car kept going and performed well. From the high-speed winds near Middleburg to the rain in Sedgefield the team and car faced a tough challenge in 2018.


The performance and achievements of Sun Chaser 3 would not have been possible without the generous support of our various sponsors. We deeply appreciate their willingness to sponsor our efforts to produce state of the art, lightweight solar vehicles whilst training students, expanding university facilities and acquiring skills. We also need to thank Vacuum 2000 (Pty) Ltd who assisted the team “at the 11th hour” with vacuum forming a complex clear canopy for the solar car.

We sincerely hope that this association will be maintained and that with continued to support we will be able to take part in the World Solar Challenge 2019 in Australia as well as future Sasol Solar Challenge events.


Posted on



SigmaTUBE is the industry’s most powerful tube-cutting solution, seamlessly integrated inside of SOLIDWORKS.

Designed for tube-cutting laser and plasma machines, SigmaTUBE offers automatic linear nesting for round pipe, rectangular tube, channel, I-Beam, and many more profiles.



Because SigmaTUBE is an add-in module to the SOLIDWORKS design interface, experienced CAD programmers will find it intuitive and easy to use.

From creating parts to generating NC code, every aspect of the programming process is completed within SOLIDWORKS.

This eliminates time-consuming exports and the need for a secondary CAM software.



SigmaTUBE can also automate many of your machine functions such as tapping, repositioning, and chucking.

Bevel cuts are automatically processed, and common line cutting can be applied to many different profiles.



Parts and assemblies can be created natively inside SOLIDWORKS or imported from other external systems like AutoDesk Inventor, SolidEdge, ACIS (SAT), IGES, and many others.

Automatic toolpath sequencing is applied to the part and NC code can be generated for most major 4 or 5-axis tube machines including Alltra, Amada, Hankwang, Mazak, Mitsubishi, and Trumpf.*



By combining intelligent feature recognition, powerful orientation modifications for 4 and 5-axis machines, automatic toolpath generation, and versatile automatic

nesting engines for tubes, SigmaTUBE stands above the rest in efficiency, automation, and integration.

New SigmaTUBE X1.6 Features:

New HD TrueShape Nesting Engine

The new HD TrueShape nesting engine takes parts with similar contours and nests them within each other, creating two parts with one common cut.

The engine will automatically override kerf settings when it detects a part with similar contours that could be nested together, saving time and waste.


Expanded Hole/Bend Options

You can now choose from new options when creating holes and bend reliefs for a new part.

  • Broken Round: Cuts off part of the hole, leaving a straight line on one side.
  • Key: Extends the hole with a semi-circle in a key-like shape.
  • Banana: A crescent-like hole with an adjustable angle.
  • V-Section: These are placed at certain spots to aid in bend relief.

Click here to see more information on the SigmaTUBE Packages.

Posted on

Mastercam Training, and the benefits of Mastercam Home Learning Edition

CAD/CAM can be challenging to learn, and even more challenging to teach.
Mastercam QuickPart gives students a fast, easy way to design and cut parts while learning the principles of CAD/CAM, and having fun doing it. Mastercam QuickPart is easy to use, and provides a path for instant success by taking students step-by-step through a basic CAD/CAM application.
It uses Mastercam functionality to let a student first design a part, and then create toolpaths to cut the part. From material selection, to stock size, to tool selection, a student will learn the methods involved in manufacturing with state-of-the-art CAM software

Mastercam QuickPart is a standalone product, that has been developed on the Mastercam Demo/Home Learning Edition platform.

MECAD Manufacturing also offer a 5-day Mastercam training course, that covers Design, Mill & Lathe modules.

You can book training online at

For more information, or if you would like to receive a free copy of Mastercam’s Home Learning Edition, please contact: Peter Watson

C: +27 82 563 2387

W: +27 12 645 4300


Posted on

SigmaNEST – How to speed-up manual nesting

Most SigmaNEST clients prefer to autonest their jobs as it saves them time, money and a lot of unnecessary effort. For the ones that don’t here are a few advanced nesting functions that can speed up your manual nesting process.


Parts can be manually pre-nested when creating a new nesting task. To pre-nest the parts, they must be added to the task list on the right side of the Task Setup dialog box.

Pre-nesting is used to combine parts into a group that can then be nested as a group of parts in a specific orientation.

For example, if you had multiple parts that you wanted to nest as a ‘L’ shape, you can build the shape manually by pre-nesting the parts as a group. Next, when the parts are nested onto the sheet, the parts you pre-nested in the group are placed on the sheet in the ‘L’ shape.

Keep in mind that you cannot pre-nest parts if the requested part quantity is reached, or if the nest runs out of sheet space.

How does it work?

  1. From the Task Setup dialog box, click Pre-nest. The Pre-nest window opens with the parts from the task listed on the right. By default, the Pre-nest group is set to Group 1.
  • Click on the part you want to pre-nest and drag it out to the pre-nesting workspace. You can use the action buttons on the left to set the pre-nest options, such as rotation, alignment, torches, mirroring, and bump settings.
  • Perform any of the following actions as necessary:
  • Click New Group to save the current group, clear the pre-nest workspace, and open a new group workspace. Arrange the parts for this new group and repeat this step for each group you want to create.
  • Select a group from the Pre-nest list to view an existing pre-nest group of parts.
  • Select a group from the Pre-nest list and then click Delete Group to remove the part grouping.
  • Click Move and then select a part on the workspace to move it to a new location.
  • Click Copy and then select a part on the workspace to create a copy of the part. Drag it to a new location and click to place the part. Press the Esc key or click Copy again when you are finished copying parts.
  • Click Remove Parts and select the parts to remove. Right-click or select the check mark icon to the left to remove the parts from the workspace.
  • Click Move Leadin to manually reposition the part leadins. Click a part to select it and then click a position on the part to place the leadin. Click Exit () or press Esc to save your changes and end the function.
  • Click Close to save the changes and return to the Task Setup dialog box.
  • Now you can manually nest each group. To save the pre-nest for future use you can save it as a Static Nest.

Static Nest

Static Nests are saved sheets with the parts already nested. You can save automatically or manually created sheets as static nests.

Save a Static Nest

  1. From the Nesting tab, in the Manual Nest group, click the arrow under Static Nest.
  2. Select one of the following save options:
  3. Save Static Nest. Saves the current nest as a static nest. In the Save As dialog box, enter the File name for the new static nest and then click Save.
  4. Save Static Nest as Kit. Saves the current nest as a static nest as a kit with multiple sheets. In the Save As dialog box, enter the File name for the new static nest and then click Save. This is typically used when parts on multiple sheets make up one complete item when cut and assembled, such as furniture.
  5. Save Static Pre-Nest. If you pre-nested parts as a group for the sheet, this option saves the pre-nest as a static nest. In the Save As dialog box, enter the File name for the new static pre-nest and then click Save.

Load a Static Nest

  1. To load a static nest, click the arrow under Static Nest and select Load Static Nest. The Static Nest dialog box opens and displays a list of all static nests. Select a static nest from the list to view the parts associated with it.
  2. Enter search criteria into the Part Name, Material, and Thickness text boxes to search the Static Nest List.
  3. Click Rebuild to take the files in the static nest and import them back into the database.
  4. Select the static nest to load from the list and then click Load. Click Yes when prompted to load the static nest. The Confirm dialog box opens.
  5. Select one of the following methods to determine how the parts in the static nest are added to the nesting task when loaded.

Include Parts. Includes all parts in the static nest in the new task. The sheet is populated with the parts and NC paths from the static nest. The parts are also displayed in the Parts Bar.

Exclude Parts. Loads the NC paths from the static nest to the new task but does not add the parts to the task. If any parts from the static nest are not in the new task, the parts are not nested on the sheet. If you clear the NC, all NC

Posted on

Reporting In SigmaNEST


Are you using your SigmaNEST to its full potential? Are you generating reports where-ever you can?

One useful feature within the SigmaNEST software is its reporting capabilities. SigmaNEST provides the ability to print, edit, and save reports and is a valuable tool to print organized information about tasks and parts.

Reports are customizable by user and can be created from scratch or default reports can be used and changed to customer preferences.

There are numerous reports that SigmaNEST users can choose from such as nest details, part details, part label reports, and detailed work orders.




SigmaNEST reports are customizable and can add features such as bar codes, custom logos, change colour fields for specific jobs or parts and display data that is specific for any job.

Reports can display nest previews and part ID’s, allowing users and customers to view the nest layout and each individual part that was used. Users can report data on cutting times, cost estimates, pierce times, pierce counts, and number of parts used. Reports can also show the status of each work order, allowing users to keep track of work order data within each nest or part.

By improving your reports, you are taking one of the first steps to improving your productivity and traceability.

Should you feel your reports are not up to scratch or feel there is a certain report you would like please feel free to contact the friendly SigmaNEST Support team in 012 645 4300 or email us on

Posted on

MECAD Manufacturing and the Cost-Value Dilemma



A break from the normal tech blog, I wanted to communicate the value we can add to you, the customer.

MECAD Manufacturing is the only complete engineering software provider in the country specializing in ensuring that you have the highest return on investment not only in your software purchase but also in terms of customer satisfaction and cost control.

Allow me to break-down the individual business benefits of using MECAD Manufacturing software products.

  • A One-stop shop for everything from design and simulation through to initial material processing and shop-floor control and finally to precision machining. Whether you are using traditional cross-brand CNC machines, or you have made the leap to robotic manufacture.
  • These global market leading products ensure that you remain on the forefront of technology and innovation thanks to the market leading customer community. Our product principals listen to you, the end-user, and constantly develop our products accordingly to ensure that we are optimizing efficiency and effectiveness throughout your business.
  • We add value to everything from increasing turnover, through material and human resource usage and finally to cost and profit control. This visibility allows you to manage customer expectations on the front end thereby guaranteeing customer satisfaction while increasing long term sustainable profitability throughout your value adding process and ultimately driving shareholder value.
  • We back these products with the best and widest coverage of product support people throughout South Africa. With three strategically located premises we are able to service our clients both remotely and on-site with the most knowledgeable professionals in the industry. We prioritize our subscription customers thereby increasing and rewarding customer loyalty. The success of our business depends on the success of yours and we will never forget that.
  • Our training programs both on-line and at all three locations are specifically designed and delivered to enhance your product knowledge and maximise your usage in order to drive this value through your business.

Global engineering statistics show that on average a job cost can be broken down as follows:


Our complete range of engineering software is focused on making your steel cutting and fabrication process more efficient and using that data to provide visibility throughout your business. But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, reducing your time to process a job has an impact on 75% of that job’s cost and should therefore be the focus of our efforts to add value to your business. Programming CNC machines and reducing your cutting time is where we add the most value with user friendly interfaces and logical process steps as well as realistic and reliable simulation. Any time you can simulate a job and trust that the collision detection and cutting times that you see are accurate before you post the job to the machine, you will save money or make your business more competitive in a tough economic environment. Yes, but what about reducing the wear on the machine and tools as well as material waste? We have that covered too with Dynamic motion tool paths that optimize feeds and speeds as well as carry the heat away from the tool and part we can reduce cutting times while reducing the load on the machine and tool. As for material waste, with remnant tracking we can ensure that you are maximizing the material usage while reducing stock tracking time.


So, to summarize the business process range that we will add value to, everything from quoting your customer to invoice and delivery with stock control, every form of cutting, machining and secondary processes in between. Providing accurate costing and visibility throughout. This allows you to be competitive but also to manage the expectations of your customers and delivery superior customer service.



Posted on

SigmaNEST Nesting – HD SuperNEST


SigmaNEST – Advanced Automatic Nesting is in our DNA

We are The World’s Best Nesting System and the main aim is to give our customers the ability to create faster, better automatic nestings. One of these ways to do that is through the HD SuperNEST Nesting Engine.

Achieving the optimal nest can save up to 10% of material usage in a steel service centre environment processing multiple material grades and thicknesses daily. By using the new HD SuperNEST Nesting Engine, you could save up to a further 6% of material usage and up to 73% in programming time.

To move to an automatic nesting environment from a manual environment can sometimes be daunting, however a lot of the time, companies do not take notice of the amount of time spent in manual nesting parts and thus driving up the costs of the department, where the department could be spending time on money generating tasks.

SigmaNEST’s HD SuperNEST is a time-based algorithm, designed to create the best yield possible within a specific time frame. As the engine produces better nests, the timer will reset and repeat itself until the highest yield is achieved or you manually accept the yield. This option is good for composites and other expensive materials, where material usage is your top priority.

Once you choose your nesting engine, SigmaNEST offers multiple customization features, such as part priority, number of tries, and lookahead factor. With these options, you can choose the nesting method that is best for each individual work order.

When purchasing the new Powerpack Premium, which can be upgraded to from any current package, you will receive the HD SuperNEST nesting engine as long as the license is kept on an active maintenance. HD Super Nest supports the Best Sheet Options and the Continuous Nesting module.

Feel free to phone your SigmaNEST sales representative to book a trial of the license.

Simple functions that we achieve in the SigmaNEST Software package to save money and time are the following:

  • Best yield with minimum waste
  • Consume less material, lowering the cost per part
  • Part-in-part nesting reduces cost per part
  • Create and nest on remnants to improve material usage
  • Nesting strategies for complex machines account for clamps, repositioning, bevel cutting, and multiple processes

SigmaNEST – Nest with the BEST!



Posted on

Mastercam 2019 Is Available for Purchase.


Mastercam 2019 was developed to streamline your manufacturing process from job setup to job completion.

Highlights of Mastercam 2019 include improvements to:

  • Preparation/Setup
    Improve efficiency and reduce job setup time with enhanced CAD model import support, improved part preparation, fixture setup, and expanded support for model-based definition (MBD).
  • Tool Support
    Expanded digital tool libraries deliver accurate tool assembly models and access to the latest cutting tool technology, with added support for Accelerated Finishing™ and more.
  • CNC Programming
    Increase productivity and programming efficiency with new 2D through 5-axis toolpath improvements, new Lathe and Mill-Turn machining support, and new Swiss machine functionality.
  • Validation
    Improved toolpath and machine simulation, toolpath graphics, and other verification and analysis tools provide greater programming assurance for confident, informed decisions before the job is run.
  • Job Management & Documentation
    An array of system-level enhancements improves job documentation and management – addressing quality and certification initiatives with new visualization and section view tools, improvements to view and setup sheets, and much more.







The evolution of Dynamic Motion™ technology continues to maximize machining speed and efficiency. Along with Accelerated Finishing™ technology, Mastercam coordinates advanced tooling developments and machining processes for precision parts, reduced cycle times, and improved surface finish.

If you feel the need for… refresher training, please book your training at

Posted on

SigmaNEST – Inventory Control


Inventory control is defined as the process of ensuring that appropriate amounts of stock are maintained by a business, to be able to meet customer demand without delay while keeping the costs associated with holding stock to a minimum.  Managing a company’s inventory is such an important part of most businesses. Without a proper management system in place, long-term profits can be affected, as more inefficiencies are likely to occur.


You can’t maximize profits without knowing:

  • How much you have at a given time
  • How much you’ve received
  • How much to pay suppliers
  • If there’s enough to fill orders
  • When to order more

Managing your inventory matters because inventory is cash in disguise. Why wouldn’t you want to know how much you have?


Allocating or reserving stock

When managing the SigmaNEST inventory, you may find that you need to reserve certain sheets for specific customers or tasks. This article will give you an overview of how to do that.


Reserved and On Consignment stock

When adding sheets to the SigmaNEST inventory, there are three classifications for a sheet’s status: General Inventory, Reserved, and On Consignment.


A General Inventory sheet may be used for any work orders or parts, regardless of customer.

A Reserved sheet is a sheet owned by your company but may only be used for work orders and parts of a specific customer.

An On Consignment sheet is a sheet owned by a specific customer, and can only be used for work orders and parts of the same customer.


To add a Reserved or On Consignment sheet, follow the steps to add a new sheet and choose the appropriate status from the upper-right section of the window. Then choose the customer associated with the sheet and continue entering sheet data as usual.



Allocating stock to tasks

If you have multiple SigmaNEST workstations, occasionally, two programmers may accidentally try to use the same sheet for different tasks. Obviously, if there are not enough sheets available, only one programmer can use the sheet.  So, to prevent situations like this where a sheet becomes double-booked, you can configure SigmaNEST to automatically allocate sheets to tasks. Effectively locking them and preventing other users from using or modifying them.

To do this:

  1. Go to the Tools Help tab and open the Configuration.
  2. Select the Defaults tab and expand the Sheet Defaults
  3. In the Sheet Lock Duration field, indicate how long a sheet should be locked after a user adds it to a task.
  4. Click OK to save Configuration settings.

From now on, any time a sheet is added to a task, it will be locked to that task and unavailable for other use.  In the Sheet List, locked sheets are indicated by a plus (+) sign to the left of the Sheet Name. If you expand the plus sign, you can see who holds the lock and when it will expire.

If you are the owner of a sheet lock, you can right-click it and release the lock to make the sheet available to other tasks. However, if you are not the owner of the sheet lock, you will not be able to do this unless the feature rights are set to allow it.

You can therefore see that having visibility of allocated stock avoids confusion when reconciling physical stock with stock on the system.