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COVID-19 Creates New Markets for Metal Studs

Driven by a pandemic, companies use steel studs to create innovative pods and partitions that meet society’s changing needs.

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Photo Credit: Modeco Construction

A global, novel virus that keeps us contained is changing the way we interact in both our personal and professional daily lives.

Some changes are presenting opportunities for business-minded entrepreneurs to develop and market new products featuring cold-formed steel (CFS) studs. Here are 2 examples showing how CFS can meet changing societal needs caused by COVID-19.

Backyard Office Pods

In 2019, Trevor Gilbert launched his construction company, Modeco Construction, focusing on building prefabricated modular bathrooms for apartment developments.

Toronto Life reported that when the pandemic hit Gilbert and his wife, Brittany, were both struggling to work from home and raise a toddler. So in March, Gilbert imported a roll-former, a machine that fabricates specific configurations of steel framing.

“It arrived on March 10 and everything shut down less than a week later,” Gilbert says. “Most of the builders I was working with put their projects on hold.”

Instead of forming bathroom pods, Gilbert started rolling metal studs for office pods to create a place for busy professionals to work in a separate space at home.

“I imagined an office pod that I could easily build with slight adjustments to my machine,” says Gilbert.

metal stud office pod

Modeco Construction’s manufacturing process uses customized light-gauge structural steel framing and select sustainable materials to create an innovative and resilient space structure. Photo Credit: Modeco Construction

He adds: “My biggest hurdle was figuring out a quick and affordable way to build an energy-efficient wall and roof that could withstand the elements. It was a crash course in understanding which sustainable materials had the longest life span.”

Home Office Studio Pods (HOSPods) from Modeco Construction feature:

  • Light-gauge steel framing
  • Durable steel roofs
  • Select metal or stucco exterior walls

Modeco Construction sells the pods online, promoting them as “customized light-gauge structural steel framing (offices) to create an innovative and resilient space to suit your needs.”

Hospital Units and Partitions

Concerns about the hygiene, durability and healthiness of interior spaces have increased considerably in recent years, and even more so today during the COVID-19 pandemic, notes the ArchDaily.

The enclosures in hospitals and health care centers must conform to predetermined guidelines. These derive from the standard equipment and the procedures commonly used in hospitals.

Within the robust framework of the structural walls, the partitions – which are essential for subdividing a space – must resist to impact, fire and humidity. They must also mediate the acoustics between rooms and within each room.

This is where the choice of materials is essential.

Hospital Panels - Operating Room

Hospital wall partitions are made of steel studs and channels, interior glass wool, and external layers of gypsum board. Photo Credit: José Tomás Franco (ArchDaily)

Etex Chile/Romeral developed 9 types of partitions composed of a structure made of CFS, channels, interior glass wool and gypsum board. This basic composition can be optimized according to the requirement of each health care project.

Steel stud partitions are also being used in temporary hospitals in response to the need for additional space due to COVID-19.

In April, the Denver Post reported that the Colorado Convention Center was transformed into a temporary hospital with up to 2,000 beds as the state readied for a potential surge in patients due to COVID-19.

To create temporary walls for each unit, hospital pods made of cold-formed steel framing with drywall were constructed.

Steel Framing Hospital Partition

The Colorado Convention Center uses steel framed partition walls to construct rooms for COVID-19 patients who no longer require ICU beds to ease congestion at local hospitals. Photo Credit: The Denver Post

Due in part to the their durability, steel studs make perfect sense for medical settings since they are:

  • Moisture resistant
  • Impact resistant
  • Non-combustible
  • Designed for minimal sound transmission

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there is little doubt that innovative companies and entrepreneurs will continue to create new products to meet society’s changing needs. And, CFS framing is sure to lead the way as the material of choice due to its durability and versatility.

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