Our company is a VERO reseller (too), so we sell Radan as a sheetmetal CAM software... It provides nesting functionality of course.
Good and affordable and you can drive lots of punching and laser cutting machines.
This is a loaded question.
Radan and Metamation are the top contenders, but they are also expensive.
Along the lines of $15K in nesting software for $3K of CAD software in my case. In my case I need to process for both Plasma and Punching that are very different.
One of the things I have been working out along the way is preventing the sheet metal outputs from being in-determinate. For example, this is caused when using a flange and using the default angles as the ends of the flanges. This causes and non-concise flat pattern layout when exported to DXF.
Nesting software (anything that will take CAD flat patterns and allow arrangement)
Each brand has there way of working that typically includes details about the destination (fabrication tooling) that are processed at the import stage.
There are many cheap programs for this on the market, but you pay for it with the time to process each part.
Almost every vendor will give you one or two demo sessions on line. Send them your files and watch them do what you want the software to do and ask questions along the way.
The big difference between many of them is how smart they are in 3D sheet metal calculations. Some packages use the sheet metal of SE functions and will re-flatten or require empty flats in the model files to process the work. This was a deal breaker for me because I need the existing flats to create drawings from.
In general, get one and test it for exactly what you want to do.
Not the exact answer for your question, but this free software is very good and could help for other tasks:
I worked on getting a router up and running a few months back. I didn't have any nesting software, and came across this neat little package. At the time, I was looking for something to arrange my parts on a sheet, and then I used my programming software to tool each part in the sheet.
As 12Gage said, Metametaion is tightly integrated to Solid Edge and can tool up/process generally any machine you have. We have a laser, punch and plasma that we use MetaCAM to generate Nests and code with every day.
MetaCAM has the ability to read in the .psm file directly(no DXF file required) with all the attributes as well, thus saving hundreds of hours a year for us in CAM processing. I don't exactly understand 12Gages "deal breaker" scenario as I use the same flat pattern to create drawings that I use to send to CAM. But I would be happy to look at it for him.
Is it cheap? No. No 3rd party CAM solution usually is; they don't have ten's of thousands of seats like CAD. But, they do negotiate the price (down), and with the Solid Edge plug in, the software will pay for itself over time. It just depends on how much you produce and how many seats you need.
MetaCAM from MetaMation is what I meant to write...spell check didn't help me on that one!
Act/Cut Nester standalone is a product from Alma (www.almacam.fr)
It opens DXFs from Solid Edge (save as flat if psm files) and can then generate an automatic nest.
You can then export the nested layout to DXF.
If someone was asking for the best CAM software this would be a totally different discusssion all together. The question was asking about nesting without any tooling application, just for placement of parts.
"We have a Solid Edge customer that wants a nesting solution only to define the layout of the parts automatically. The rest of the process would be manual. Is there such a solution? What would you recommend?"
There are very cheap, if not free, programs out there to get what they are looking for.