Reporting from the 2018 International Builders' Show, Jordan Smith reviews the latest in component framing and technology. For starters, there's the trend among manufacturers offering pre-fabricated systems combining structural sheathing with an air barrier and insulation, but it's growing into more complete panelized systems. These were once the domain of big production builders only, but are now becoming widely available and more practical for smaller builders, as well. And truss component technology has evolved to the point it is now practical for even the most complex custom frame.

Smith is especially excited about Sapphire, a software package from Mitek that renders 2D plans into digitized 3D framing models on the fly. The model is a tool in itself that can be useful for stick framers, even. With it, a builder can generate a slice through any part of the frame, and hand crews the exact layout of any wall, floor or roof; generate takeoffs and a complete bill of materials, not just of the lumber but of drywall, insulation, even all the nails and screws. Changes can happen quickly and will be reflected throughout the frame. To get the 3D model, you don't have to spend hours learning a new software; you take your 2D plans to a truss supplier or lumber dealer offering the service, and if you are buying from that supplier, there is usually no cost.