BCAM was pioneered by the Basque Government, the University of the Basque Country and Ikerbasque in 2008, and is supported by the Provincial Government of Bizkaia and Innobasque. The organisation currently has a staff of over 90 researchers, who work in areas from data science to mathematical modelling.

Within industry it is becoming increasingly necessary to resolve situations where the calculation of machining and the optimisation of material consumption is highly complex. As a starting point, the collaboration framework aims to explore new avenues for approaching parts nesting.

Lantek’s goal is to constantly improve its nesting methods, and this collaboration will result in the development of an advanced algorithm that achieves the optimisation of 2D nesting from different potential approaches. Researchers from the computational mathematics group at BCAM have extensive experience in geometric modelling and optimisation, and are pouring their knowledge into the Lantek collaboration with the following objectives: to design an efficient algorithm for the optimsation of 2D parts nesting; to design discreet pairing measures; to improve the current method, which uses the representation of areas (pixels), through the representation of boundaries; and to develop software that both increases the speed of calculations and optimises material management.

According to Michael Barton, lead researcher of the project at BCAM, the challenge from a mathematical and computational point of view, is to obtain a precise solution while keeping the ‘rasterisation’ size to a minimum in order to streamline the algorithm and avoid excessive computing times. The agreement with BCAM therefore opens up the possibility of approaching the improvement of sheet-metal parts nesting from new and innovative directions, which may bring about significant advances, contributing to the efficiency of the industry.

Scientific director at BCAM, Jose Lozano, states that the transfer of knowledge to industry has always been one of the centre’s priorities and, with this objective in mind, the Knowledge Transfer Unit (KTU) has been created. The KTU is described as “a platform for developing mathematical solutions for scientific challenges based on real-life applications and collaboration with industry”. Lozano explains that these collaborations present themselves in the form of “strategic agreements, R&D projects, joint ventures, training courses, mentoring of Master and PHD students, and the organisation of outreach activities”.

The framework of the agreement between BCAM and Lantek also envisages calling for the placement of a PHD student who, in collaboration with research staff at Lantek, will research different possibilities and evaluate the best algorithm options in terms of their applicability and results obtained from concept tests. It is estimated that the duration of this project will be four years and, when complete, a thesis will be published.