Bringing Mill Shops and Architects Together on Bulletproof Projects

As anyone in the trades knows, architects can have unrealistic expectations.  “Because they may not have dealt extensively with a specific material or situation, they take a 10,000-foot theoretical view,” explains Jim Richards, CEO of Total Security Solutions. “But when it gets down to the details of getting it built, sometimes it’s really tough to connect those dots for an architect, and get them to see why something can’t be done with the constraints they have—the budget, the time, the man-power—or that they’re not going to like it that way, even though it looks good on paper.”

With decades of experience designing, engineering, fabricating, and installing bullet resistant barrier systems, Jim and his team can help mill shops and architects connect the dots, so that a project fulfills the client’s specifications, stays on budget, looks good, and doesn’t drive anyone insane in the process.

Helping Mill Shops Add Functional Bullet Resistant Designs

Fasteners are a perfect example of a situation where architectural flair comes into conflict with practical design.  In most cases an architect is going to want to avoid exposed fasteners.  So he or she might call for recessed channels to frame all the windows—including all of the ballistic glass.  “That’s fine,” Jim acknowledges, “until you need to remove a piece of glass or make modifications or renovations”—something that’s far more common with retail interiors than it is with a standard recessed exterior window.  “If you’ve recessed all the channels, then you’ve gotta take the whole counter apart to free the ballistic transparency.  There’s all sorts of costs associated with that.”

Other times, the architect’s original concept is simply impossible because of the constraints set by how ballistic materials are produced:  “If the design calls for a 10-foot by 10-foot piece of glass, you might be able to do that with standard quarter-inch or half-inch tempered, but with Level 3 GCP, that’s 1,600 pounds of glass.”

This doesn’t mean that the architect can’t have smooth lines, a tight fit and finish around glazing, or a huge window or curved reception desk.  But their are very real challenges presented here.  Over the years Total Security Solutions has found many different solutions with different trade-offs, but the same results: A happy end-user.

Challenging Millwork and Bullet Resistant Systems

Even though Total Security Solutions is good at talking architects out of unrealistic expectations, they’re still adept at doing unbelievable things.  For example, several years ago Conoco began an extensive project to renovate and secure more than 60 of their fuel stations, primarily in the American West. This included contracting with mill shops to produce large-radius counter tops and check-out stations, which were then protected with curved acrylic bullet resistant barriers.  But these weren’t simple static barriers.  In order to accommodate the high-traffic daytime periods for these fuel stations, Conoco worked with Total Security Solutions to design curved horizontal sliders.  During peak day-time hours (a very safe time to do business), the curved acrylic could slide aside, for direct contact between clerks and the public. After dark, the window slid back into place, for a solid, transparent bullet resistant barrier.

This didn’t just call for five-foot wide panels of curved 1.25” monolithic acrylic—which Total Security Solutions had custom drape-formed and heat molded.  It also required curved, UL-rated aluminum framing members and sliders, all following that same reveal as the counter.  The end result was a large, cylindrical bullet resistant shroud composed of five curved panels that could be easily opened and closed by a single cashier.

It was an extensive job, calling for original engineering, precise fabrication, and close coordination between Total Security Solutions, mill shops, and installation crews across the country.  And Total Security Solutions pulled it off without a hitch.

For mill shops with no prior experience working with a bullet resistant system or bulletproof company, Total Security Solutions is happy to share their experience securing retail and bank teller lines, check-in stations, reception desks, and re-laminating counters and die walls with bullet resistant fiberglass. Check their website for building and architectural resources, including CAD blocks and spec sheets—or give them a call and start a conversation with one of their trained bullet resistant system designers.


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