does anyone know of a low cost or free software program that could simulate folding of sheet metal patterns so I can work out the best fold sequence eliminating collisions etc.. Based on my stock tooling shapes and sizes and machine limitations?
I am not aware of anything low cost or free that has what you are asking for. What I do for simple iterations or interference checking is have our tooling exported from our forming software via SAT format, then bring that into Inventor. This allows a rudimentary way to simulate the forming processes and allows you to fix interferences when they crop up, but it's not automated. For the complex stuff, we use the forming software exclusively.