This paper presents an algorithm for solving the complex and critical problem of bending sequence in sheet metal manufacturing. Finding the bending sequence and required tool assignment presents a large combinatorial problem which is impossible to solve optimally for practical applications within a reasonable period of time. The paper presents a two-stage algorithm. The first stage finds a feasible solution based upon collision avoidance heuristics. The second stage rapidly seeks an alternative feasible sequence with a lower cost without exceeding time limitations. The algorithm is very practical because it reaches a low-cost solution quickly within computer memory limitations. In this paper, the problem is defined, the approach is presented formally, and finally, the power of the algorithm is demonstrated by solving bending sequences for real products.

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