Cold-Formed Steel (CFS)

Cold-formed steel (CFS) is the common term for steel products shaped by cold-working processes carried out near room temperature, such as rolling, pressing, stamping, bending, etc. Stock bars and sheets of cold-rolled steel (CRS) are commonly used in all areas of manufacturing. The terms are opposed to hot-formed steel and hot-rolled steel.

Cold-formed steel, especially in the form of thin gauge sheets, is commonly used in the construction industry for structural or non-structural items such as columns, beams, joists, studs, floor decking, built-up sections and other components. Such uses have become more and more popular in the US since their standardization in 1946.

Cold-formed steel building

Cold-formed steel members have been used also in bridges, storage racks, grain bins, car bodies, railway coaches, highway products, transmission towers, transmission poles, drainage facilities, firearms, various types of equipment and others. These types of sections are cold-formed from steel sheet, strip, plate, or flat bar in roll forming machines, by press brake (machine press) or bending operations. The material thicknesses for such thin-walled steel members usually range from 0.0147 in. (0.373 mm) to about ¼ in. (6.35 mm). Steel plates and bars as thick as 1 in. (25.4 mm) can also be cold-formed successfully into structural shapes (AISI, 2007b).


The use of cold-formed steel members in building construction began in the 1850s in both the United States and Great Britain. In the 1920s and 1930s, acceptance of cold-formed steel as a construction material was still limited because there was no adequate design standard and limited information on material use in building codes. One of the first documented uses of cold-formed steel as a building material is the Virginia Baptist Hospital, constructed around 1925 in Lynchburg, Virginia. The walls were load bearing masonry, but the floor system was framed with double back-to-back cold-formed steel lipped channels. According to Chuck Greene, P.E., of Nolen Frisa Associates, the joists were adequate to carry the initial loads and spans, based on current analysis techniques. Greene engineered a recent renovation to the structure and said that for the most part, the joists are still performing well. A site observation during this renovation confirmed that "these joists from the 'roaring twenties' are still supporting loads, over 80 years later!" In the 1940s, Lustron Homes built and sold almost 2500 steel-framed homes, with the framing, finishes, cabinets and furniture made from cold-formed steel.

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