As one of the best value, steel framing design software’s available on the market today and a comprehensive add on to Sketchup, we take a closer look at light gauge steel framing software FrameBuilder-MRD, where it came from and where it’s heading.
FrameBuilder-MRD (FrameBuilder) origins stem directly from a hands-on manufacturer of frames, trusses, and houses in South Africa, Farhad Sacoor has been developing FrameBuilder since 2016 as an economically priced alternative to some of the larger brands on the market. Farhad is also a Howick machine owner (89mm) and manufacturer of LGSF products based in Gauteng province in South Africa. Gauteng includes both Johannesburg city and the administrative capital, Pretoria. Although the region is only 1.5% of South Africa’s land area, it is the most populous with over 15 million people. This provides local LGSF opportunities, particularly in social housing and trusses for cheap brick houses that are often preferred by the large local communities). Farhad also flat packs and exports to neighboring African countries to maximize production opportunities.
While Farhad has been the key contributor to FrameBuilder, there has been input from a dozen or so LGSF professionals over the years, including Howick steel framing machines who have actively supported the market initiative. “As a manufacturer myself, I knew a gap in the market existed between designers and manufacturers, and I wanted to realize this gap. The problem and gap being most of the specialist design capabilities for LGSF sit only within the manufacturers or machine owners who own the license. This is the case in many parts of the LGSF world. Sketchup was identified as a universal design platform to help bridge this gap and to provide an affordable solution for the market, meaning anyone can design LGSF components or fully-fledged structures and handover a production file to a manufacturer for fabricating” said Farhad.
“FrameBuilder-MRD in Sketchup has opened up opportunities for LGSF trainers and instructors. As an example, FrameBuilder-MRD is now being used in training colleges in the US, one being Orange Coast College headed up by LuzAnna Figueroa,” added Farhad.
“FrameBuilder can also potentially open up the LGSF market even further by giving the average architect, draughtsman, renovators, DIY homeowners the opportunity to get into the market without breaking the bank,” said Farhad. Licensing is offered in both annual and monthly pay as you go plans.
FrameBuilder has standard modules that can produce, walls, floors, trusses, and complete Roof structures. It also has a unique free tool module that “allows you to draw in pencil using Sketchup native tools and then generate that into an LGSF frame, this can be completed in 2D and 3D,” said Farhad.
Wind loading is calculated in a base module based on SSMA (The Steel Stud Manufacturers Association) for SSMA profiles. Although FrameBuilder does not currently have an internal Truss load analysis module for live or dead loads, all components are “analysis-ready” and can be exported to any third-party analysis software such as Abaqus, Straad, Strap (Combined Analysis). However, an analysis module is in the making and should “be available towards the end of this year,” said Farhad.
FrameBuilder has been developed to offer universal market appeal. It has a User Profile Module that allows the designer/user to configure software properties for any LGSF country or building code that they are designing for. FrameBuilder production files can be read by any framing machine and can be used to design any LGSF structure or building type (depending on the experience of the user; however, typically 1-2 levels).
This 260m2 house in the north of Portugal (Marco de Canaveses) was designed using FrameBuilder by their Portugal based distribution partner company, Quantte*. The designer and software created an efficient design of 23kg per m2 (6,000kg in total). The panels were assembled at a nearby factory, taking 3 people five days, and the onsite erection was completed by 4 people over seven days.
*Please see our other feature article on Quantte.