Everything You Need to Know About the Cold Formed Steel Prefabrication Process

October 2022

A commercial premises represents a lifeline for business owners and entrepreneurs. Commercial structures such as hospitals, shopping malls, hotels and buildings within industrial parks also speak to the vitality of a community. That is why it is crucial to find sturdier, lighter, and more durable materials to boost the longevity and livability of any construction project.

And, that is where cold formed steel (CFS) comes in. Prefabricated through a unique step-by-step process of smelting, cooling and rolling, CFS is incredibly long-lasting, resilient, and cost-effective, making it the best choice of material for most modern building projects.

At the same time, there are still myths, misconceptions, and doubts about the making and use of this material. In this guide, you can learn all you need to know about using CFS for your construction projects. But, if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experienced team at All Steel Mid-Rise.

What is Cold-Formed Steel

What is Cold-Formed Steel?

Before diving into the details of what cold-formed steel is and how to use it, let’s look at the CFS Prefab 101.

Cold-formed steel – commonly referred to as CFS – describes steel products that are strengthened and shaped through processes carried out without excessive heat or at room temperature. Some of these processes include stamping, bending, and rolling.

Generally, cold-formed steel items are opposed to hot-formed or hot-rolled steel.

Thanks to its lightweight, CFS is commonly used in commercial construction projects and allows designers and constructors to vertically develop mid rise-rise buildings as opposed to high-rises and towering skyscrapers that use structural steel.

What’s more, since its standardization in 1946, CFS has found a wide range of new uses, including structural and non-structural applications.

How is Cold-Formed Steel Made?

As we have seen, unlike hot rolled steel, cold-formed steel is created through processes that don’t require heat. These processes aim to remove impurities and vulnerabilities from the raw iron material and allow the newly-created steel to be rolled into thin sheets.

Thanks to the length and thinness, these steel sheets are highly versatile and resilient and are easily rolled into large coils weighing 7-15 tons. Once rolled, the sheets go through a “pickling” or bathing process, which aims to remove impurities and flaws through the use of acid.

Once cleaned, the sheets of steel undergo a cold rolling process that reduces their thickness even further and coats them in a protective layer of zinc.
These highly-refined rolls of steel sheets are then delivered to specialized manufacturers in the construction industry, who will be able to cut and unwind each coil into cold-formed steel sections according to the needs of each specific installation requirement and construction project.

How is Cold-Formed Steel Made?
How Long has Cold-Formed Steel Been Around?

How Long has Cold-Formed Steel Been Around?

Cold-formed steel, as well as CFS construction methods, have been around for nearly 130 years. What’s more, the first known application of CFS in the construction industry dates back to the 1920s, when this type of construction material was used in the building of a hospital in Lynchburg.

Some years later, in 1933, the new material known as cold-formed steel made its debut at the World’s Fair held in Chicago, during which CFS framing was used to build several houses in the exhibition area. The successful debut made cold-formed steel framing increasingly popular in the commercial market internationally.

How is Cold-Formed Steel Used?

Thanks to its unparalleled versatility, durability, and resilience, cold formed steel framing regularly finds new use cases. Some of the most prominent cold-formed steel applications include:

  • The manufacturing of components for the commercial construction industry
  • The building of self-storage facilities
  • Roofs, roof trusses, and retrofits
  • Curtain walls, shear walls, load-bearing and non-load bearing wall framing
  • Car bodies
  • Drainage facilities

Cold-formed steel is also used in the creation of structural and non-structural components in a wide range of industries, including hotels, public schools, and healthcare infrastructures.

How is Cold-Formed Steel Used?
When Should You Opt for Using Cold-Formed Steel?

When Should You Opt for Using Cold-Formed Steel

Using cold-formed steel in your construction project comes with many advantages. Being long-lasting and offering high levels of fire resistance, cold-formed steel is one of the best construction materials to remain compliant with the local building codes and regulations.

What’s more, cold-formed steel is resistant to heat, moisture, and pests such as termites, thus making it an excellent option for residential and commercial construction projects.

If you are unsure whether CFS is the right material choice for your construction project, working with a specialist can help you decide where it’s convenient to use CFS framing and where you should couple CFS elements with wood framing structures.

What Are the Properties of Cold-Formed Steel?

Cold-formed steel has many benefits to offer to the construction industry thanks to this material’s properties and characteristics.

Among the factors that make CFS so unique and advantageous are:

  • Steel framing using CFS does not contract, split, or crack
  • It is moisture and rot resistant
  • It does not wrap or promote the growth of mold and mildew
  • It is fire resistant
  • It is consistent in terms of quality and looks of the finished product
  • It is recyclable and eco friendly

Because CFS is a uniformly manufactured product, there will be less waste in terms of scraps and unsuitable parts, thus reducing both manufacturing costs and the environmental impact of a construction project.

What Are the Properties of Cold-Formed Steel?
What Are the Benefits of Using Cold-Formed Steel in Construction?

What Are the Benefits of Using Cold-Formed Steel in Construction

The properties of CFS translate to a wide range of benefits that this material offers to the construction industry.

These advantages include the fact that steel can be used for construction projects requiring high levels of stability and balance since it does not shrink, contract, or expand. What’s more, CFS is manufactured uniformly, which creates consistency. That consistency translates to less scrap. CFS also reduces building delays.

It is important to note that CFS is highly sustainable. It contains, on average, 25% recycled content, and it is 100% fully recyclable at the end of its life, which makes it less detrimental to the environment.

Even more importantly, CFS components and steel framing are highly reliable and durable, which prevent the cascade of construction issues that are too often part of construction projects.

In the event of construction projects based in geographical areas prone to strong winds and other natural disasters such as earthquakes, buildings constructed with cold-formed steel can deliver greater durability, safety, and resilience.

Using prefabricated cold-formed steel framing can also speed up and streamline most construction projects.

Looking To Learn More About the Cold-Formed Steel Prefabrication Process? Get in Touch With All Steel Mid-Rise

Through the cold-formed steel prefabrication process, companies operating within the construction industry can gain a significant advantage over the competition – in terms of costs, delivery speed, and result quality.

As the use of CFS inches toward the century mark, it continues to prove its value as being among the strongest, most reliable, versatile, cost-effective, and ever-evolving building materials whose advantages seem to have few limitations.

Beyond the advantages listed above, if you are looking to learn more about the benefits and uses of CFS, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team of highly-trained specialists at All Steel Mid-Rise — we are here to answer any questions you may have!

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