Images above and below courtesy Bluescope.
Application in areas such as domestic framing systems is gaining traction and newer application areas such as for modular construction and primary structural framing in mid-level buildings are taking advantage of steel's strength, stiffness, robustness, dimensional stability and environmental resistance.
The supply chain for cold-formed light gauge steel is well developed and design Standards exist to provide designers with specifications for cold-formed steel structural members for load-carrying purposes.
Light gauge cold-formed steel is well established in several markets and expanding its footprint in a number of other application areas. The significant application areas include:
steel for residential construction: steel-intensive traditional single dwelling housing is expanding, recognising the inherent benefits steel can bring over more traditional forms of construction
roofing and walling systems: comprising purlins, girts and profiled metal sheeting and used extensively on residential, industrial and commercial buildings
cold-formed portal frames and sheds: comprising a range of sizes of single-level steel buildings for commercial, industrial, agricultural and domestic purposes. Cold-formed light gauge steel members with bolted or screwed connections are used for the primary structural framing, with roofing and walling membranes comprising purlins, girts and profiled metal sheeting. The ASI Steel Shed Group provides specialist knowledge for both designers and suppliers
street hardware: poles, fences and other street hardware increasingly utilise cold-formed steel
racking systems: cold-formed light gauge steel beams and columns in highly optimised multi-level configurations form the basis for intensive storage of goods for applications ranging from small-scale workshops to purpose-built automated warehousing for large-scale distribution networks. Read more about it here
decking systems: pervasive in composite steel-concrete construction in multi-level building structures, structural decking systems can act either as permanent formwork or compositely as part of the structural action of the suspended concrete slab
internal fitout: cold-formed light gauge steel framing is used extensively for internal partitioning and ceiling systems in commercial and industrial buildings
mid-rise buildings: recent developments have seen mid-rise (up to 7–8 storeys) commercial and residential buildings with cold-formed light gauge steel used for the majority of primary structural framing
modular construction: recent developments have seen a number of buildings constructed using volumetric modular systems. Cold-formed light gauge steel provides significant benefits, including strength, stiffness, lightness and dimensional stability.
Leveraging the performance attributes of cold-formed light gauge steel construction and the industry focus on cost-effective, high-performance lightweight solutions, substantial research is underway internationally and in Australia on innovation in key areas such as:
analysis methods: such as the Direct Strength Method
‘flat pack’-style prefabrication: prefabricated cassette systems for floors and walls are an example
performance solutions: to address fire, noise and sound attenuation in particular
connections: including power-actuated fasteners, quick-connect snap style fasteners and hybrid connection models (between light gauge and hot-rolled sections)
structural systems: for example, structural systems and design approaches for mid-rise construction.
The ASI Steel Innovation Portal provides a convenient searchable database of current innovative projects, including those on light gauge construction.
National Association of Steel-Framed Housing