Automatically arrange a lot of vector items optimally?

I use Illustrator and Inkscape (prefer the former), and have searched up and down for a plug in, tool or method that does something I THINK would be something a lot of people would use. Hence, I believe it exists, and I just haz a dumb when it comes to finding it.

Let’s say I have a file that wasn’t created to print on a Glowforge, or just a random assemblage of small pieces to print. I want to grab a subset of those items and throw them into an Illustrator file that has the size of print area I can work with (I have all the nifty Glowforge centric setups, thanks!), and I want to click a few buttons and - voila - the pieces are arranged on my artboard in the most optimal fashion to fit them all in. Doing it by hand takes a long time, and I know it isn’t optimal. :slight_smile:

Does such a thing exist?


Yeah it does, the general concept is called nesting.

There have been a few threads about it, let’s see…


Here we go:

Deepnest has been around for a while now, not sure if it has many competitors. I haven’t seen many threads about it lately. Might be worth a google to see what vector nesting software exists these days.

Let us know what you end up finding! :slight_smile:


Ok I got curious and found this article that lists a few options.

I generally lay parts out semi-manually using the arrange functionality in inkscape. Nesting software can be handy in lots of cases though, good luck!


Ah, that’s what I was missing, the term! THANK YOU so much! Great links. I appreciate it.


FYI, many of us went that route and found that the tiny bit of material we were saving wasn’t worth the time that Deepnest took to lay it out…if you find different, please share the software you end up using!


Also, whenever i used deepnest, it slightly changed the measurements of the file and i couldn’t get it to stop doing that. It would add like a millimeter, which wasn’t good for what i was using it for.

I think fusion 360 also has a nesting program. I haven’t used it so i don’t know what’s is like at all, but i discovered it on my computer recently.


One thing I made a silly mistake with (but those are usually the ones I remember and don’t repeat) is to watch the direction of the grain in relation to the direction you place the design.

And the other thing that I didn’t know when I was starting out (so thought I’d mention here) is that engraving time can vary greatly depending on the direction you place the engraved part of the design. I try to keep it straight horizontally. And if it is like rectangular shape, put the longest part of the engrave horizontally. Just for kicks, you can test it out and move it around and then see what it tells you your print time will be. It is surprising how much of a huge difference it can make.