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  March 3, 2010
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2009-2010 Technology Development Survey Helps Prioritize Research And Educational Needs To Increase Use Of Steel Framing

The results for the 2009-2010 Technology Development Survey conducted by the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) and the Cold-Formed Steel Engineers Institute (CFSEI) are in.  The findings show some similarities to the previous survey conducted in 2007, and at least one significant new issue facing the industry.

According to the survey, the top five research and development needs identified by members are:

  1. Anchorage of Stud Walls to Concrete: Develop improved options for compliance with new ACI 318 Appendix D anchorage requirements.
  1. Clip Angles: Standardize and optimize the evaluation and design of unstiffened clip angles for common loading conditions.
  1. Simplified Wall Openings: Develop simplified solutions for wall openings, such as using the floor rim track as a load distribution member to span small openings or developing specialty header and jamb/king stud members.
  1. Design of Wall and Floor/Roof Openings: Perform additional research to resolve questions related to load sharing and load transfer in traditional built-up jamb studs and header assemblies to better optimize the framing of wall and floor/roof openings for gravity and lateral loading.
  1. Structural Wood Panel Diaphragms and Shear Walls: Broaden the suite of available design options for diaphragms and shear walls that use plywood or OSB sheathing.

Research on Clip Angles and Design of Wall and Floor/Roof openings made the top five in 2007 and the recently completed survey.  The other items in the top five in 2007 - Develop Design and Installation Standards for Steel Strap X-bracing; Facilitate the increased use of Pin Fasteners; and Enable Broad Implementation of Sheet Steel as a Replacement for OSB and Plywood - did not make the top five in 2009-2010.

The item on steel strap X-bracing was not included in the 2009-10 survey questionnaire because of the completion of a significant research project at McGill University and incorporation of the findings in AISI S213, the Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing - Lateral Design. CFSEI Technical Note L001-09 on Design of Diagonal Strap Bracing Lateral Force Resisting Systems for the 2006 IBC was also published.

Items that fell from the Top 5 are not necessarily insignificant, and in fact, most still received significant numbers of votes in the survey.  Sometimes, items that are not even on the radar screen during a previous survey can arise and push priority items out of the Top 5.  One example in the current survey is Anchorage of Stud Walls to Concrete. Although this was not a focal point in the 2007 survey, it became a priority in the past two years with increasing debate during IBC (International Building Code) code change hearings. 

Given the changes in the marketplace, SFA, along with the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and industry allies, has begun a research effort to develop design solutions that will help steel framing remain competitive with regard to concrete anchor requirements.  We expect that the ongoing research will support code language for the 2012 IBC and/or various AISI standards for cold-formed steel.

Beginning in 2007, the survey segregated research needs from resource needs of designers.  For the past two surveys, the top priority resource has been the Development of a Details Library with common structural details and tabulated design capacities.

The other four design resources needs identified in the 2010 survey are –

  • Wall Stud Design and Stud Bracing Design,
  • Horizontal Diaphragm Design Examples for Floors and Roofs
  • Barrier Systems for Walls Addressing Thermal/Moisture/Air/Vapor, and
  • Structural General Notes with Examples and How-to Guidance.

The design resources identified in the survey help CFSEI to develop Technical Notes or design guides. As a result, the top five priorities change every year as items are addressed and not included in future surveys.  For a list of CFSEI resources developed to date, click on the following link: CFSEI Technical Notes.

Members can download Technical Notes free of charge by logging onto the member section of the Web site.

One interesting issue that missed the mark in this year’s survey is green building. There is much to talk about in construction today, but no subject is more compelling and will instigate more widespread change in the next few years than "green and sustainable building” in construction today. However green issues failed to make it as the top priority in this survey. This clearly indicates a striking disconnect between member priorities and developing trends in the regulatory area. 

Said Mark Nowak, President, Steel Framing Alliance, “In the coming months, we hope to continue our efforts to educate our members and provide valuable input and expertise in the needs of the marketplace especially in areas like green/sustainable building.  At the same time, we understand the importance of addressing immediate needs like those identified in the technology survey and we will aggressively move to address as many of these issues as possible.”

The Priority Survey is one of the most direct ways SFA relies on in developing our long term plans for research. The survey enables us to prioritize research projects that are of value and critical to our members and the steel framing industry.   Depending on available resources, SFA funds several projects each year and then seeks support from other allies to conduct research on others.  We are also continually engaged on the regulatory front to identify barriers and react to them appropriately, especially in the codes and standards area. 

Editor, Framework Online

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Brought to you by the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) on the first Wednesday of each month, February through December. Framework Online arms you with important news and commentary on the cold-formed steel (CFS) framing and construction industries.