FRAMECAD and Howick Ltd. are automated cold-formed steel (CFS) stud fabrication machines that can roll standard and custom shapes. In general, steel factories send giant coils of steel to metal stud manufacturers who will then slice the steel into thin sections, load it into rolling machines, and roll it into a desired shape. These shapes often comply with the Steel Stud Manufacturer Association (SSMA) standards.
With the process, the coil of steel goes directly to the contractor who uses the FRAMECAD or Howick machine to roll CFS to the desired specifications. This eliminates the need to buy from steel stud manufacturers and their distributors.
In addition to FRAMECAD and Howick, there are other small-scale fabrication machines on the market.
FRAMECAD and Howick Applications
FRAMECAD and Howick can be good options for contractors building single-family homes and multi-family apartments. Recently, Iron Engineering’s customers have had success in using FRAMECAD machines for smaller, residential projects. However, we do not believe this is — as of yet — the best choice for large, load-bearing projects. FRAMECAD and Howick machines processes of creating blocking/bridging makes it challenging to work for heavy bracing requirements in large load applications.
- Commercial buildings
- Modular buildings
- Internal drywall framing
- Remote construction
- Prefabricated construction
- Roofing systems
- Rapid building
- Custom building
Challenges of Using FRAMECAD or Howick Machines
While FRAMECAD and Howick machines are less expensive than equipment used by steel stud manufacturers to roll cold-formed steel, they have fewer capabilities, and the technology is not as robust.
One of the biggest drawbacks is that FRAMECAD and Howick machines can only roll a limited range of different gauges of cold-formed steel, as opposed to the entire range of 10–20 gauge steel thicknesses for the large-scale machines. There are also limits when it comes to rolling CFS shapes.
There may be challenges when it comes to buying power. Steel factories, in today’s market, are more likely to sell to large steel stud manufacturers that are buying in bulk as opposed to small contractors who may only need one coil.
It’s also important to remember that FRAMECAD and Howick are pieces of machinery that must be properly maintained on a regular basis. Specialized staff or third-party vendors may be required to keep the machines working.
Benefits of Using FRAMECAD or Howick Machines
One of the main benefits of using FRAMECAD or Howick machines is their customizable nature with prefabricated connections. The studs come off the machine precut to the exact length and predrilled at screw locations. The speed of construction is greatly improved.
Another benefit is that contractors are not dependent on steel stud manufacturers or distributors; once they have the steel coil, they can manufacture it to their own specifications.
FRAMECAD and Howick machines communicate with Autodesk’s Revit® and other BIM software manufacturers via a variety of different third-party software providers. While FRAMECAD and Howick machines are marketed as working with many of the Revit® add-ons, our experience is that MWF by StrucSoft Solutions appears most compatible.
If you have any questions or would like more information, contact us today. We’d be happy to talk to you about FRAMECAD and Howick machines and whether they are the right fit for your next project.