When it comes to weapons technology, ARES Inc. has 30 years of expertise in high tech engineering, manufacturing and testing. Located on the shore of Lake Erie between Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio, the facility is situated on an old military base in Lake Erie Business Park, just 12 miles north of the Ohio Turnpike.
Established in 1971, ARES Inc. embarked in the research and development of weapon systems. Now, they specialize in all aspects of weapon systems design, development, manufacturing and testing ranging from small arms to medium and large caliber automatic cannon and artillery systems.
These weapon programs have included weapon development, as well as advanced concepts in ammunition design. “We have developed a method of reducing the weight of ammunition, called Cased Telescoped Ammunition (CTA),” says Herb Roder, president of ARES Inc. ARES is also the U.S. government’s premier supplier of specialty barrels used for ammunition acceptance and evaluation. The high tech engineering and manufacturer of weapons has a strong clientele base in the private sector, as well as publicly-funded laboratories around the country.
The weapons developer finds an all-in-one approach is key. Its talented engineers can accommodate the unique requests of customers relative to design, manufacturing and testing all products on-site, in-house. “Being a small company, we can alter courses quickly, as all decisions are made on-site by in-house staff,” explains Roder. “And it’s much cheaper to do so, of course. It is also more economical compared to the large companies that have higher overhead costs,” he adds.
The weapons manufacturer is ISO-compliant and all aspects of production are tightly controlled starting from engineering through the manufacturing and testing processes. “Each and every component is 100 percent checked for performance to the drawing package, or to specification, including all of our outside suppliers,” explains Roder. The vendors are vetted for quality control so that each stage of the process is certified at completion and returned to the company’s facility for inspection.
Overview of services
As the use of technology in the industry has changed from paper drawings to using primarily electronic drawings (CAD), ARES Inc. evolved along with it. The in-house engineers can work with customers who have unique specifications or requirements. Upon approval of such requirements, the concept is finalized into a detailed design, followed by a thorough analysis to ensure the design meets the agreed upon criteria. Modeling and simulation are key components in design verification and reducing validation testing and overall development time.
At this stage of production, the crucial role of electronic technology is carried through to the machine shop where ARES Inc. manufactures weapon components and gun barrels. The facility itself consists of several buildings with a total floor space of 23,750 square feet for barrel manufacturing, deep-hole drilling, honing and rifling barrels. This building also houses a large turning lathe, capable of turning 27” diameter and lengths up to 244”, and includes a hydraulic straightening press.
The Quality Control department resides in the building with manufacturing. A complete set of National Bureau of Standards(NBS) traceable gauging, Computerized Measurement Machine (CMM), optical comparator and hardness testers make up the inspection department. ARES also has the capability to inspect magnetic particle and ultrasonic inspect components.
Hardware and raw material storage areas are separated from the manufacturing area. This facility is also utilized for welding, fabrication, assembly and testing of components. ARES Inc. has the capability of welding steel, stainless steel and aluminum with certified welders, as well as mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical and electronic assembly.
The testing range itself covers 642 acres of dry land and marshland. The Lake Erie impact area extends 12,000 meters out from firing bays and has airspace up to 7,000 meters. The Ohio Adjutant General’s Office controls daily firing schedules. Firing is conducted five days a week from 8:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. in the designated Lake Erie impact area.
The ARES test range consists of indoor/outdoor and completely outdoor bays. The indoor facility includes two 100-meter tunnels capable of handling small arms up to 20mm mounted in a control room and fired into sand or other media. Extensive instrumentation is available including pressures, loads, velocity, acceleration, vibration and high-speed video or film.
The facility has pressure transducer calibration capabilities, ammunition-conditioning chambers and electrical as well as hydraulic power sources. In addition to the indoor tunnels, there are three areas to fire from indoor bays into outdoor sand impact areas at either 75 or 435 meters. The remaining firing bays permit outdoor firing impacting into the federally designated Lake Erie impact area. These bays allow for target construction at various ranges as required.
ARES outdoor arenas are now available for ammunition and IED arena testing. ARES has recently worked with several vendors in addition to independent labs providing a site to conduct experimental tests on ammunition and armor. Secure ammunition and explosive storage is available.
The weapons manufacturer continues to explore innovative design and manufacturing initiatives. “We are currently performing tests on lightweight gun barrels with tantalum-tungsten alloy liners, which have never been successfully rifled in the past. ARES has come up with a method to do that,” says Roder. This innovative method garnered industry attention and the Tantalum-Tungsten Lined Gun Barrel Manufacturing team received The Defense Manufacturing Excellence Award for the year 2009 from the National Council for Advanced Manufacturing (NACFAM).