An Advanced Frame of Mind: Steel framing in the 21st century

by Chuck Knickerbocker
Using a roll-forming technique in which continuous steel coils are forced through dies and then laser-welded, manufacturers can produce steel window frame members in long lengths and various complex shapes. Compared to traditional steel and aluminum assemblies, this new generation of steel frames provides certain aesthetic benefits:

  • narrower frames;
  • sharp edges rather than rounded profiles;
  • corner joints with no visible weld beads or fasteners; and
  • flexibility to use back mullions of different shapes and sizes.

Since manufacturers can now produce steel frames in long lengths and various complex shapes, design teams can select from hollow-, I-, T-, U-, and L-shaped mullions or custom profiles. Another option is to use the veneer connector to attach the curtain wall to glued-laminated (glulam) beams, I-beams, or round steel tubes, among other structural members.

Advanced steel curtain wall systems use a ‘steel veneer’—or glazing adaptor—to overcome the challenge of fixed back mullions. This component can overlay onto nearly any modular back-mullion system, enabling it to receive glass or any other glazing material.

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