Knudson Manufacturing (Knudson) is one of the earlier pioneers of the American roll forming industry starting in 1957 (just two years after the first McDonalds’ restaurant opened in California!).
Today, the business is over 60 years old with a dedicated management team that boasts over 150 years of collective experience in the industry in their Denver, Colorado facility.
Knudson first entered the light-gauge steel framing with the Cee/Zee/Hat roof-over system in the early 1990s. This was a three-machine, trailer-mounted system developed to build a pitched framework on flat roofs for re-roofing applications. It included a 4-in c-channel, a 4-in zee purlin, and a 1-1/2-in hat channel. This system was developed primarily as an extension of the roofing programs Knudson was already deeply involved in at the time.
The parallels between the 4-in c-channel and the 350S150 and 550S150 profiles that were commercially available at the time were clear. Knudson quickly moved into a dedicated c-channel (stud) and u-channel (track) forming machines with the first version of the KS-246.
“The stud and track forming equipment have seen dramatic performance and
technology evolution. The initial offerings ran on either manual hydraulic controls or simple cut-and-run batch controllers like roof panel machines. They also featured hydraulic drive and shear/punch systems. By the mid-1990’s in-line punching tools for service holes had been incorporated, and the initial development of programmable, multi-punch capable batch controllers had begun”, said Patrick Flood, presently Executive Vice President with a career spanning over 24 years at Knudson.
Fast forward to 2020. Knudson’s current LGSF equipment includes:
- Servo/Electric Drive Systems
- Multi-Profile, Multi-Gauge Capabilities
- Multi-Punch Control
- Traditional Stud/Track and Single Component (Stud-Only) Systems
- Network Connectivity
- CAD Integration
A question that Patrick frequently faces, “Given the available technology, why aren’t more people forming their own studs?”
“In the United States, we have seen a relatively slow adaptation of in-house component fabrication in the prefabrication industries. The commercial distribution of LGSF components in the USA is both widespread and can be somewhat cost-effective. To that end, panel shops and truss fabricators have been able to operate within the confines of traditional supply chains efficiently for many years. In addition, a relatively small number of high-speed fabricators supply the majority of the commercially available components in the United States. The result – reduced market opportunities for smaller-scale domestic machinery manufacturers in LGSF equipment,” said Patrick. “The technology has had a limited impact on a long-standing business model.”
Patrick is also routinely asked about the presence of foreign companies in the LGSF equipment manufacturing space.
“The integrated (CAD-Enabled, Multi-Punch, Prefab) LGSF market has become known for the market positions held by foreign companies. To their credit, they were among the first to really develop and pioneer the multi-punch, CAD-integrated platforms. They were also able to build a huge amount of momentum selling highly limited offerings into markets with both distinct supply chain deficiencies and a complete absence of LGSF technology. That momentum and volume have resulted in the ability to develop proprietary software and business intelligence platforms associated with their machinery,” said Patrick.
“Knudson, however, elected to respond to the variety of demands in the far more mature and complex domestic building markets in LGSF. We have combined multi-profile, multi-gauge equipment with best-in-class controls, communication, software, and inkjet printing providers to provide highly capable and adaptable LGSF solutions.”
Their most popular offering – the KFS-1420E – features the capabilities that are the most sought after in the United States:
- 63-in and 6.00-in (152mm) Stud and Track
- 63-in, 2.00-in, and 2.50-in flange heights
- 14 – 20 Ga, Grade 50 (340Mpa min) Steel Capability
- A library of over thirty (30) in-line punch tools
Knudson works closely with Beck Automation (controls/communication/production management) and StrucSoft Solutions (CAD design software) for integration with their LGSF machines.
Beck’s SII controller – an industry standout – manages precision machinery control,
while the Connex enterprise software platform manages production control, inventory management, daily reporting, network connectivity, and CAD file import.
Strucsoft’s MWF Pro Metal framing application runs as an Autodesk Revit Add-In. MWF – in addition to its unparalleled framing capabilities – includes a CNC File Output generator. This module generates complete sets of CNC instructions for our roll forming machines. This includes part length, quantity, and feature positions.
When asked about his primary/target markets, Patrick reported, “We find our customers work primarily in the following key segments, Limited-Service Hotels, Hospitality, Student Accommodation, Assisted Living, and Multi-Family Residential. These markets typically include structures of between four and seven stories, with occasional efforts in taller buildings.”
“While 16 Ga (1.29mm) and 18 Ga (1.02mm) steel tends to be widely used in LGSF applications, we find very few contractors/manufacturers who do not want 14 Ga (1.63mm) capability in their lineup. Load-bearing projects over three stories typically require 14 Ga studs, and the KFS1420E offers all of this.” Said Patrick (You can see the full KFS 1430E Product Review on our website: https://www.coldformedsteel.com/product-reviews-kfs1420/
Knudson machines are built 100% in the United States. Their manufacturing philosophy – we always work locally first. Most of their component suppliers are also based in Colorado, with roughly 20% of their component fabrication taking place in-house. Their local servicing commitment, pricing, and capability are second to none.