Fusion 360 Arranged Nesting

March 11, 2021 Tim Strandberg

My day job is centered around technology; specifically, CAD/CAM related technology.  After eight or nine hours I'm getting bleary eyed and am ready for something else.

Don't get me wrong, I love CAD and CAM and all the technology that goes with it, but I'm just a little jealous of all the operators across the world who are on the shop floor actually "making" things.

So, my avenue of release and re-energizing is wood working.  But I don't like waste.  Anyone can measure out a part on a piece of lumber or sheet of plywood and start cutting away.  Ever wondered where that big pile of scrap pieces comes from?  Hmmmmm....

Why not combine my two worlds?  Since I already do a lot of my furniture and general woodworking designs in Fusion 360 why not leverage that to its fullest?

Why not combine my two worlds?  Since I already do a lot of my furniture and general woodworking designs in Fusion 360 why not leverage that to its fullest?

I recently came across a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired table lamp on the internet that would go very nicely in our family room.  Lots of right angles and overhangs and reveals that Wright was known for. 

But this also presents a challenge.  How to get the most yield from my materials. 

 I’ve determined I want to use poplar for the chimney, walnut for the light reflector(roof), and cherry for the rest.

Do I have enough material of each?  The chimney is easy, 1 piece, LxWxH.  But all those other pieces, particularly the cherry shades where grain direction matters, present a puzzle, literally.

Fusion 360 to the rescue.  The Manufacturing model has an “Arrange” command that will lay the pieces out for us.  Sort of a lightweight nesting program.

Setting up the arrangement is pretty straight-forward thanks to the Arrange command in Fusion 360.



1) Switch to the Manufacturing workspace.

2) From the Milling ribbon menu pick on the Setup drop-down and select Create Manufacturing Model.  This will create a copy of your original design model.  So now we’ve got two models, one in the Design environment and one in Manufacture. What that means for us is: Any changes can be made to the design model automatically flow down to the Manufacturing model.  But, (and here’s the secret sauce), we can make changes to the Manufacturing copy and those changes DO NOT flow back up to the Design model.

3) Right click on our new manufacturing model in the browser and choose “Edit Manufacturing Model”.

4) I know I’ve got a piece of cherry that’s 6” wide by 60” long.  So, I’m going to create a sketch within the manufacturing model to represent the area of that board.

5) The manufacturing workspace enables a few new commands.  The one we’re going use is “Arrange” located under the Modify drop-down menu.

6) When we select “Arrange”.  We’re presented with a new dialog.


7) In the view above, I’ve selected all the cherry parts from the browser, and I’ve selected my ‘board’ sketch as the Plane/Sketch on which to place my arrangement. You can also set the border space, (how close to the edge of the material), and how far to separate each item.

8) When you click “OK” our arrangement is displayed.  Simply turn off the visibility of the components that are not included in the arrangement and you’ll get a clean view of the components on your work piece.

But wait, that’s only the ¾” stock parts.  I still need a layout for the ¼” tops for each shade.  Simply just create another arrangement all within the same manufacturing model.

Bonus Feature:  There is a ‘preview’ feature that allows you to multiple sketches, (several pieces of stock).  You can enable this feature by accessing your preferences and turning on Advanced Arrange in the Preview features.

Now hold on, I know where your mind is going… Why not just sketch all my stock pieces and do a single Arrange operation?  The Arrange tool does have some limitations, such as it assumes all components will be manufactured out of the same stock thickness.

For that little trick stay tuned for my next blog post: Fusion 360 Extensions: Nesting.

About the Author

Tim Strandberg

PLM Solutions Consultant<br><br>Tim focuses on business process management consulting, product lifecycle planning, and system to system integration.

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