Midland engineering group Hadley has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with an American firm to adopt its Ultrasteel process in a deal which could rise up to £20 million.
Dietrich Metal Framing, whose headquarters is in Pittsburgh, will use it at its 38 manufacturing and service locations across North America, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Dietrich is the largest producer of metal framing and finishing products in the world and is owned by Worthington Industries, one of America's biggest industrial companies.
Rollforming specialists the Hadley Group, which is based in Smethwick, has developed and patented Ultrasteel worldwide.
It has now signed an open ended licensing agreement, which could be worth up to £20 million over the next five years, depending on how much steel is processed by Dietrich using the development.
Philip Hadley, managing director of Hadley Group, said: "We are extremely excited to be working with Dietrich Metal Framing.
"Combining the talents of our technical staff with Dietrich's technical and marketing abilities should make Ultrasteel the most successful metal framing product in North America."
The process which can be applied to virtually any cold rollformed product, alters the surface characteristics of the base strip steel which gives it a "dimpled" finish.
This effectively "doubles" the thickness of the steel and and provides equal strength from lighter gauge material, resulting in a more costeffective end product.
The process was originally developed 15 years ago, but has gained popularity in recent years.
In 1995 Hadley rolled 600,000 linear metres of steel using the process, a figure which rose to 60 million metres last year.
The integration of advanced research and development with in-house tool manufacture and the construction of its own rolling lines has earned the Hadley Group its reputation as a innovator in cold rollformed technology.
Hadley employs 475 people and occupy more than 480,000 sq ft of production and office space at Smethwick and two more sites in West Bromwich.
The privately-owned group exports to 50 countries across five continents and has its own manufacturing facilities in Germany, Thailand and Dubai plus a sales operation in Paris.
It currently has turnover of £85 million and rolls more than 70,000 tonnes of steel.
In the US, building owners and architects were impressed with the significant acoustic and fire benefits of Ultrasteel.
A spokesman for Hadley said: "Contractors recognised that it would improve the speed and quality of the building process by allowing for faster and better fastening of both the framing products and wallboard.
"It is easier for screws to grip into, a vital consideration when the steel is used in dry wall lining components in houses and offices."
The Ultrasteel process has been applied extensively in the worldwide construction industry including suspended ceiling systems, roofing sheets and PVCu window reinforcement sections.
Dietrich's rollforming operation rolls more than 65,000 tons of steel every month and its intention is to introduce Ultrasteel capability into each of its plants as soon as possible.
Dietrich Ultrasteel framing products are already available in Florida and will systematically be rolled out across North America as other Dietrich manufacturing facilities convert to the process.
Ed Ponko, president of Dietrich Metal Framing, said: "We believe this to be one of the most innovative technology offerings in the metal framing industry providing benefits throughout the construction chain."