Utilizing cold formed steel software to design, analyze, and budget a project has become the way of life for many designers and contractors. Cold formed steel (CFS) has been around for decades, and its usage and benefits have evolved tremendously over the years. Metal studs, which were more commonly used as secondary framing to structural steel and concrete, have shown over the years to have remarkable cost and performance benefits in load-bearing structures and residential framing. Cold formed steel software has followed the evolution of light steel framing products, and continues to be a one-stop resource for engineers to simply their design while reducing risk. Software of this capacity is advantageous for many reasons, and reveals many new exciting design avenues that are worth exploring. Let’s highlight five areas where cold formed steel software opens up design possibilities –

Value Engineering

Cold-formed steel software is an exceptional tool to allow an engineer to value engineer a project. Value engineering is an essential step in the overall process of completing an economical building design. When a project is value engineered, it is engineered for ideal cost savings and overall function. CFS software produces real-time calculation results, which also saves the budget from many supplemental engineering fees that could accrue during a value engineering process. The software analyzes all loads and forces to optimize each design element, allowing the engineer to specify and design each part of the structure with precision. During a value engineering process, cold-formed steel software will provide output that allows the engineer to determine if CFS is a possible and cost-effective solution for the structure.

Member, Connector, and Fastener Database

A reputable cold formed steel software program will have a large database of members, connectors, and fasteners. These choices open up a whole new world of design possibilities when engineers have a large selection of products at their fingertips. Consider the many manufacturers in the cold formed steel industry. CFS software allows the designer to evaluate proprietary members, connectors, and fasteners that he/she may not even know exist. These proprietary elements bring new solutions to the design table that will help a project solve unique conditions, and even stay on budget.

Building Code Compliance

The top cold-formed steel software programs on the market frequently issue service packs and new software builds. With each update, the design engineer has the security of knowing that the software contains the most current building codes in the industry. This not only serves as a protection of liability, but also provides the designer with enriched design possibilities. The saying, “earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do” comes to mind. Structures built in high seismic zones have to comply with strict building codes in an effort to reduce loss and save lives in the event of an earthquake. Cold formed steel framing software gives the engineer the peace of mind that the structure is built to code, and allows the engineer to design a better, smarter, and more cost-effective building. Ultimately, a strict compliance to building codes increases the design possibilities for CFS by setting a reliable standard for protection; thus guiding the project on reasonable structural capability.

Export to 3-D BIM Modeling

When a cold formed steel software has the ability to export the design into a 3-D BIM Modeling software, design possibilities are plentiful. SteelSmart® System is a good example of this industry advancement. Applied Science International, the creator of SteelSmart® System, has designed a plug-in for Revit®, SteelSmart® Framer. Basically these two software programs, SteelSmart® System and SteelSmart® Framer, communicate with each other. An engineer can design a module in SteelSmart® System and export it to SteelSmart® Framer where the design can then be used to create 3-D BIM models in Revit® for visual model representation. Plus, the process of using these two programs together streamlines any project modifications, revealing design possibilities while saving time and money.

Enhanced Structural Detailing

An ideal cold formed steel software program includes modules for every aspect of the building design. Modules need to encompass curtain wall, load bearing wall, shear wall, floor and roof framing, and short wall design. Utilizing a CFS software that includes a complete suite of these design modules provides the designer with a one-stop resource for design and product selection. Having the ability to thoroughly design each wall and floor section modernizes the cold formed steel structural detailing; thus enabling engineers to design structures quicker and safer while exploring a world of design possibilities.


The cold formed steel industry is evolving, and the design community must evolve with it. CFS software provides the engineer with a solid and reputable tool to swiftly and efficiently design and specify cold formed steel. Despite a project’s requirements which can lead to a number of design limitations, it’s important to understand that countless opportunities and possibilities also exist on each project. CFS software can effortlessly expose design possibilities through value engineering options, a massive database library filled with products and building codes, 3-D modeling capability, and precise structural detailing.
Cold formed steel software is the now – and the future – for building design and analysis. If you haven’t already boarded the cold formed steel software train, it’s time.

Kristy for blog author

Kristy for blog author  Authored by: Kristy Andrews
Kristy is a Communications Major & Technical Advisor working within the Marketing Department of The Steel Network, Inc. Kristy has been employed with TSN for over 18 years, and has supported SteelSmart® System during much of her time with the company.