Reducing the thickness of the steel used to form stud and track profiles has been a feature of the Southern African interiors’ fit-out approach for several years. The benefits have been seen in the form of overall price and weight reduction. Accordingly, transport costs and overall materials cost have been reduced, an appealing proposition. But is there a hidden negative cost not taken into consideration?
Three aspects contribute to the stiffness and resistance to deflection in a drywall: metal framing, gypsum plasterboard, and the width of the drywall. At the core of the partition, the steel framing (stud and track) is the backbone to which plasterboard is fixed with sharp-point drywall screws. Each component contributes a measurable factor to the overall performance of the wall. It can be argued that for lower walls in retail and office installations, the required performance is accepted as simply fit for purpose. As wall heights increase and potential lateral loads experienced by the partition rise, performance, particularly for stud and track, becomes increasingly critical.
Flexing of the partition beyond design limits can, at best, result in unsightly cracking of the final render and, in worst-case scenarios, the collapse of the wall.
Roll formers of stud and track continuously work to achieve this balance of stiffness and lightweight.
The Hadley Group, based in the United Kingdom, working in partnership with the University of Sussex, conceived, patented and have evolved a work-hardening process for light steel framing under the worldwide patented name of UltraSTEEL®. The process results in sheet steel that has a pattern of dimples formed across the area of treated steel. Tension results in the steel, known as plastic strain. The resultant properties are crucial contributors to performance. A profile formed with the UltraSTEEL® process benefits from a 10% reduction of buckling, 20% increase in tensile strength, 20% increase in bending resistance and, importantly, a 10% increase in screw retention. As a direct result, thinner gauge steel that has been work-hardened through the UltraSTEEL® process delivers a quantifiable performance profile, and thinner gauges can be used with confidence for roll forming stud and track, ceiling grid suspension profiles, and u-channel profiles for flush plastered ceilings.
Three key steel-frame attributes – buckling, bending-strength and screw-retention – are addressed by UltraSTEEL®.
The dimples formed by the UltraSTEEL® process can be mimicked by knurling; however, the effective performance attributes cannot be mimicked by knurling.
There is only one licenced producer of UltraSTEEL® profiles in Sub-Sharan Africa: Saint-Gobain, who market UltraSTEEL® through Gyproc under the brand name Gypframe®. For the region’s interior designers, architect ceiling and partition contractors, there can only be one efficient ceiling and partition backbone: Gypframe®.