Twins from Maine grow up tinkering, become prime defense contractors.
At eight years old, they built a log cabin with a new hatchet. At 10 years, a robotic arm from bike parts. At 27 years, the world’s fastest robotic tank and, now, the smallest all-terrain armored vehicle.
Today, with the help of SolidWorks® software, the Howe twins, Geoff and Mike, are able to invent extreme "Mad Max"-style vehicles with astonishing capabilities. Known in Defense Department R&D circles as the "The Wright brothers of the military," the prime defense contractors also star in Discovery Channel's "Black Ops Brothers, Howe & Howe Tech" show.
Through their main business, Howe and Howe Technologies Inc., of Waterboro, Maine, the brothers have produced:
The Ripsaw high-speed tank, dubbed "the future of combat" by Popular Science, capable of 80 mph and zero to 50 in 5 seconds;
The Mini Rip ATV for consumers who want to be unstoppable in the woods;
The PAV1, which is the world’s smallest tank, for police and SWAT teams;
The Subterranean Rover, a rugged mining personnel transport vehicle; and
The Thermite unmanned firefighting vehicle.
"With everything we build, we take the top technologies available and push them to the limits," said President Michael Howe.
"We take the same approach when choosing design and fabrication tools. We want the best software and hardware that we can find, so we can test the boundaries of what is possible."
After trying other software, Howe and Howe settled on SolidWorks because it's easy to use and compatible with other tools.
"SolidWorks is definitely on the cutting edge of interface design," Howe said.
"It has a short learning curve, and our new engineers pick it up in about a week. We can also output different CAD formats, because SolidWorks plays well with others. This makes us compatible with a wide range of customers."
Adopting SolidWorks has dramatically streamlined development. The Howe and Howe team makes extensive use of tools for efficient design of weldments, and 3D models drive plasma torch and CNC cutters. Roll-cage fabrication now takes one-tenth the time, and scrap costs are down by 85 percent.
The success of Howe and Howe Technologies has also attracted the interest of Hollywood. The company recently created a highly modified version of the Ripsaw for use as a prop in an upcoming Hollywood film.
"The efficiencies that we've instituted using SolidWorks allow us to compete successfully against the big defense contractors," Howe notes.
"We've gone from two guys working off hours to a multi-million dollar research and development company."