METALOQ Q&A (updated Nov 16, 2020)
Q: What does cost modeling demonstrate for comparisons to hot rolled steel frames, LWS frames and site built versions?
A: Steel prices are fluctuating so fast we are pricing every month. So pick a size and quantity and we will quote.
This price is based on our suppliers current production setup and supply chain. We expect the price to fall as we gear up and bring all the work in-house.
Licensees can make their own kits (in the markets that haven’t been reserved yet), none of the work in making kits is hard to do, and the equipment is stock-in-trade, so we expect to see self-performed costs that are significantly lower.
Q: How long does it take to assemble a METALOQ frame?
A: We have assembled 6 so far, our fastest time was just over 1.5 hours with a team of 4 persons using a track crane and ladders. A dedicated assembly cell with work platforms and a forklift (and no track crane) could likely cut the time to 1 hour.
Q: What does 'Simply Precise' mean? How precise?
A: The core of the innovation is leveraging the normal tolerances and precision of the machines used in making the components. Typical LASERS can hold .005" and press brakes about .010" The welding fixtures we design do not impair those numbers, resulting in a final tolerance on height, length of +- .010" and near perfect squareness.
With accurate components, the frame assembly, outfitting, hoisting and final connection proceed simply, and loads pass evenly through the combined frame.
Column Assembly, shown here is a 'business card' apart all the way up
Floor joists in obvious symmetry
Corners columns aligned, with exact 3D positioning
Q: What is the hope for this technology – licensing agreements with modular manufacturers and contractors?
A: Correct, we are a developer and supplier of IP consisting of the core inventions such as METALOQ and experience-based assistance with factory and building design and operational setup.
Q: Is it a closed or open system? – what is the customization versus standardization tradeoff with the product?
A:The product is made with a mix of CNC cut and formed components joined by welding, and roll-formed components cut to length and formed. So there is little in the way of hard tooling and the product is very easy to customize. Customization costs are essentially programming changes.
As of fall 2022 there are four versions of the frame: Standard, ultra light for 1-3 story structures, heavy duty for battery enclosures and a strap-braced version which can also be panelized for high-volume production
Q: What building types is it applicable for?
Low-mid rise, non-combustible. Plus all the industrial applications e.g. data centres. Actually no limits but these are those that make the most sense at this time.
Interaction with Other Parties
Q: How does the system interface with the design engineer, design architect, factory engineering team and general contractor?
A: We supply a 3D model in whatever format the designer likes. REVIT, SolidWorks, etc. Prior to production of the kit we model in SW and kick out the BOM and cut files.
Q: What are the size limits of METALOQ frames?
A: Like many modular building systems, the size of modules that can be fabricated is limited by shipping constraints, not by the structural system.
NB: The basis of design for the METALOQ system is a typical 350 square foot / 35 square meter hotel room / studio apartment with outside dimensions of 13’-6” x 28’ x 10’-2” / 4.1m x 8.5m x 3m. Modules can be fabricated as single rooms, as double-room “dumbbells”, or with “balconies” i.e. the hallway attached to one module. Modules can also be fabricated with thicker, or thinner material, with more or less bracing etc. as required by the engineers.
Q: How high can you build with METALOQ frames?
A: METALOQ frames are optimized for a wide range of building heights. The lightest frames are optimized for buildings from 1-6 floors, the second weight range is 7-12, the third is 13-25.
NB: Beyond 25 floors calculations have shown that an externally-braced frame with periodic transfer structures and / or a brace core is the most economical approach to the support of modules. METALOQ heavy-duty frames are a tall-capable load-bearing wall version which exploits the continuous bearing wall of the METALOQ frame to support stacks of 25+ modules.
Q: What do METALOQ frames weigh?
A: METALOQ module frames are engineered to suit specific conditions and range from 11 lbs / psf to 20 lbs / psf. As an example, a typical 350 square foot hotel room frame engineered for a 6 story building weighs approximately 4400 lbs, which is 12.6 lbs / psf
NB: The number of modules in a stack, the building and module form factors and wind speeds determine the loads imposed on the lowest module in the stack. These loads include compression due to gravity and tension due to overturning forces. In general, shorter, wider buildings in areas outside of hurricane zones require less steel. Tall, slender buildings exposed to “Florida Winds” require more structure.
Q: How are METALOQ structures braced?
A: Diagonal bracing in the long axis of the module is required for both hoisting and the performance of the completed building. Bracing can be of several types: Single axis, tension only; cross braced, tension only; single or double axis compression / tension.
Bracing can be isolated to single “bays” (the space bounded by two columns and the top and bottom beams) or to the building core.
Bracing can be internal (inside the infill wall framing) or external (straps on the outside of the infill wall framing)
Q: What makes the METALOQ floor system unique?
A: Typical LSF floor systems rely on the stability of the sill beams and the connecting effect of the floor boarding to provide strength to the floor. The joists are typically connected with a sheet-metal angle or tab and multiple self-drilling, self-tapping screws.
The METALOQ joist connection clamp provides a high-fixity connection between the LSF joists and the cold-formed rim joists that braces the rim joists against rotation while resisting lateral forces. The clamp is welded to the rim joists and positively engages a “dimple” or bead stamped in to the web of the joist. Joists joined with this proprietary clamp are an integral part of the structure of the module, rather than being supported by it.
Q: Does the stability of a METALOQ structure benefit from the diaphragm action of the floor system?
A: Yes, the fixity of the joist end connection, stiffness of the floor system, high fixity and shear of the fasteners in the MgO board, and the strength and positive action of the horizontal interconnectors all contribute to strong diaphragm performance
Floor board, wall board and fireproofing
Q: Is the METALOQ system fire-rated?
A: The METALOQ system is all steel and well suited to non-combustible construction. When supplied with I-Span floor joists, or other listed C-channel LSF joist, METALOQ details closely correspond to a number of commonly used UL and ULC specifications, including UL H501, UL M515-E, UL G558 and the corresponding ULC ratings ULC M521-E and ULC 1526
A range of information on ratings can be found at the following links:
Q: What decking / floor board do you recommend?
A: We like Megaboard and its equivalents such as Magmatrix. Glass-fiber-reinforced Magnesium Oxide board has excellent fastener pull-through properties leading to high clamping force and excellent diaphragm action. It is also lighter than concrete board and much stiffer. http://armoroc.ca/megaboard/#1481422272179-8fd3564b-1221
NB: Alternatives in common use in North America include Structo-Crete made by USG and NOCOM made by Ameriform. It is also possible to install corrugated decking and poured concrete to create a floor in the module. Fiber-reinforced concrete is ideal.
NB: Typical cementitious boards for use in modular construction have tongue and groove edges which prevent vertical displacement along abutting edges together with control of smoke and flame in fire-rated applications. Cementitious board is easily cut with circular saws and fastened to the LSF with self-drilling, self-tapping screws installed with stand-up, chain-fed screw guns.
Q: How do I install walls and partitions in METALOQ frames?
A: We recommend the implementation of programmable “roll your own” stud machines, such as those produced by Howick, FrameCad etc. to produce the infill framing for METALOQ modules.
Infill wall frames are normally assembled off-line and installed in the module frame openings after the floor boarding is installed. Screws pass through rim joists, board and track to provide excellent structural integration. Diagonal bracing is passed through pre-prepared openings in the webs of the wall studs squaring and bracing the assembled frame. Finally wiring, plumbing, insulation, vapour barrier and wall board is installed.
Standard fire-proofing details are required in accordance with local codes, so expect that access covers, fire caulking, intumescent tape, etc. will be required in shafts, risers and around connections.
Q: How does the system interface with interior finishes and exterior envelope, MEP?
A: Again, dead easy. Each module has 8 sharp outside corners that meet tightly in 3D space, so you know exactly where the matelines are and locating and aligning Megapanel cladding is a snap. We provide pre-drilled holes at 8” centres along all edges and the open sections make it easy to connect via those holes.
Q: How do I connect a façade to a METALOQ frame?
A: METALOQ columns and rim beams are provided with pre-drilled holes for fastening both LSF façade structures and heavier façade cassettes.
NB: The open-sided cold-formed framing on the outer face of modules can be filled with insulation to further reduce thermal bridging and fire propagation
Q: Can I get a METALOQ frame that is galvanized for use in tropical, marine environments? Painted?
A: Yes, the joists used in METALOQ frames are made form galvanized steel, and METALOQ frame components can be galvanized or painted.
Q: Does it rely on automation for fabrication?
A: Yes, but cautiously implemented. Walters have been using robots for some time now. We are using precision fixtures that support COBOTS, which only cost about $75k each, we can put two to six on a pair of opposed jigs and produce a column every 10-30 minutes or faster. So 16 / shift / jig. It is dead easy to multiply that implementation and bump up the daily numbers.
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