Light-gauge steel roll-forming is a process in metal stud manufacturing where thin steel sheets are shaped by passing them through rollers to create the characteristic “C” or “U” profile of metal studs used in construction framing. This method allows for precise customization of dimensions, such as width and depth, and the addition of holes or notches for wiring and utilities. Metal stud manufacturing plays a crucial role in the construction industry, providing a reliable and versatile solution for framing interior walls, ceilings, and partitions. Here at US Frame Factory we process upwards of 25,000 lbs metal everyday into studs. Understanding the intricate process behind metal stud manufacturing is essential for both professionals in the construction field and those interested in the production of building materials.
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Selecting coil size to correspond to Metal Stud Size
Once we receive an order from our clients (framing subcontractors/developers/General Contractors), we order coils for metal stud manufacturing based on the metal studs they need. This comes in pre-slit steel coils from a coil processing plant. For a 362S162-43 stud(a 18 ga 3 5/8″ stud) we buy 7.5″ wide coils that are at least 43 mils thick and covered with a G60 galvanized layer. A larger stud like for example a 6″ stud would use a 9.8-10″ wide coil.
The metal is supplied in coil form, the coil is loaded onto a decoiler, which gradually feeds the metal sheet into the roll forming machine. This ensures a continuous supply of material for the forming process. Our machine operator manually feeds the coil into our roll-former to get the line started.
Setting up the Steel Roll-Former
Here at US Frame Factory we have several multi profile metal stud roll-formers from American manufacturer Knudson. Our steel roll-formers are able to process 3-1/2″ to 12″ web sizes and flange sizes from 1-5/8″ to 2-1/2″ in gauges 12,14,16,18,20,22 through a process known as roll-forming.
In roll-forming, metal sheet moves through the machine, it passes through multiple pairs of rollers. Each pair of rollers is designed to incrementally bend and shape the metal into the desired profile.
Performing a roll-forming changeover on a metal stud machine involves switching the tooling and settings to produce a different profile of metal studs. Our machines have 11 roll-forming stations. To perform a changeover for a desired stud profile, we have a Machine Operator slide rollers on drive shafts based on the width of the material we’re producing. Above is a graphic from the Knudson manual of a forming station.
After the operator has adjusted the first 11 forming stations, they will change the hydraulic-powered shear station to accommodate the new stud profile.
Running the Metal studs
Programming the machine depends on whether you’re manufacturing stock-length metal studs or a BIM-based kit of parts for pre-fabrication. Basic metal stud stock lengths can easily be programmed directly into the controller, along with their service holes. However, complex CAD designs require a direct plug-in with the BECK Automation software. For trusses, wall panels, and steel kits, there are several different metal stud lengths, as well as hundreds of precise operations such as screw dimples, service holes, and flange cuts.
We use a Revit-based plug-in known as Strucsoft to model wall framing into existing BIMs. Once modeled, Strucsoft generates operation lists for trusses, light-gauge steel wall panels, and framing kits. We then directly export the operation files to our roll-former’s controller.
Stacking then binding the Metal Studs
Studs are stacked on a rack right after production then bound together using steel strapping.
Loading it onto trucks
All metal studs are loaded onto trucks in a method known as side-loading utilizing forklifts and sent directly to their final users.