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The need for additional protection in cricket helmets was made clear after the tragic death of Phillip Hughes, who suffered a blow to the back of his head from a cricket ball in 2014. Designed in SOLIDWORKS by Alan, Masuri Helmets have released their latest product, the Stem Guard. It adds extra protection to the back of the neck and is the first in the world to offer this kind of feature.
Recent times have brought together Visitech, B M Injection (also a Solid Solutions customer) and Masuri, a supplier of Sports safety equipment. Masuri is involved in the sport of cricket from the governing bodies, the professional players to the enthusiastic weekend player.
recognising the growing demands of the sport and with Managing Director Sam
Miller on board relocated to Twyford, Hampshire in 2011 and set about switching
manufacturing to the UK. Having the design, development and manufacture sourced
locally in the UK gives Masuri better control over quality, costs and the
original Masuri helmets were handmade from foam-filled, thin fibreglass shells.
There was a need for something safer and easier to produce in large numbers. B
M Injection was more than capable of producing them but there wasn’t yet a
design of helmet to do just that.”
Combes’ recommendation was to approach Alan Meeks at Visitech.
and I have had a long history and have worked together on many projects, so to
get together with Masuri and thrash out what was required was a fairly
straightforward process. Masuri knew what they wanted, something that looked
better but in-keeping with their traditional helmet design and that met all the
new safety standards.”
the Vision & Legacy series
design of the visor, how it’s mounted and the design of the peak are all
critical. Masuri has recently launched a “Legacy” helmet range. It is a
cost-reduced product for a larger market but still meets the safety standards.
With the “Vision” and another top of the range Masuri Helmets, the design
exceeds the requirements of the safety standards. They are made to the highest
quality standards with optimum materials, finishes and player visibility.
Alan, there were two key areas when designing the new helmet. Firstly, the
shell assembly had to absorb the impact of a ball travelling over 80mph to
prevent possible concussion and any form of injury to the scalp. The second and
most challenging requirement was to create a helmet and visor design that
prevented the ball from reaching the player’s face but didn’t impede their
vision. This is where SOLIDWORKS Simulation proved its worth.
would be easy to make a visor that closed up all the gaps where a ball could
get through, but if the player couldn’t see properly through it, he wouldn’t
wear it. Using SOLIDWORKS Simulation to explore the strengths and weakness of
the helmet structure, I was able to get the best out of the mouldings with the
minimum amount of metal and plastic.”
has been so impressed with all the products from the Vision Series to the
Legacy range and the service they get from B M Injection, that the relationship
and the business partnership has grown from strength to strength.
world mourns the death of Phillip Hughes
Phil Hughes was tragically killed in November 2014 by being hit by a ball on
the neck, Masuri responded very quickly to support Cricket Australia and
immediately got involved in the investigations into the causes of Hughes’
cricket provides a more interesting way of playing cricket but the combination
of quicker attacking bowlers and the need to make every ball count has led to a
game that has become faster and more aggressive. The ball is being bowled
faster and higher and the batsmen are taking more risks. Phil Hughes miss-hit a
“bouncer” and the ball was deflected straight at his head. He leaned back and
turned his head away from the ball leaving his neck exposed. Cricketers are
aware of the dangers of a ball bowled short known as a “bouncer” and the rules
do attempt to limit the way these are used.
is so often a compromise between function and ergonomics and the Vision series
was developed as a good balance between player protection and player usability.
The shape of the helmet behind the visor was lowered slightly to improve
protection without restricting the player’s movement or vision. However, no one
could have predicted the severity of what happened to Phil Hughes.”
This incident highlighted the need to constantly be looking to improve safety equipment. Following the tragedy Visitech, B M Injection and Masuri worked very closely and quickly together to produce the “Stem Guard” which is a clip-on addition to the Masuri helmet range that protects the vulnerable part of the player’s neck on either side behind the visor.
“The hard shell of the helmet cannot be extended into the area where Phil Hughes was hit because the player would be unable to move his head around freely and face the ball in normal play. The solution was, therefore, to design a flexible add-on system that would cover the vulnerable area of the neck as the player faced the bowler but had enough “give” to allow the player unrestricted movement of their head.”
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incident highlighted the need to constantly be looking to improve safety
equipment. Following the tragedy Visitech, B M Injection and Masuri worked very
closely and quickly together to produce the “Stem Guard” which is a clip-on
addition to the Masuri helmet range that protects the vulnerable part of the
player’s neck on either side behind the visor.
hard shell of the helmet cannot be extended into the area where Phil Hughes was
hit because the player would be unable to move his head around freely and face
the ball in normal play. The solution was, therefore, to design a flexible
add-on system that would cover the vulnerable area of the neck as the player
faced the bowler but had enough “give” to allow the player unrestricted
movement of their head.”
BM injection and Masuri continue to work closely to raise the safety standards
in Cricket and other sports. The Stem Guard itself is available now and
currently being used by professional cricketers across the world.
About Alan Meeks' Design Career
1970s, the early years before
being an established Design Consultant Alan was a fresh-faced graduate looking for a career in Graphics or Art rather than Engineering Design. Having
studied the subject at Basingstoke Technical College (now BCoT – College of
Technology), it wasn’t long before he put his product design skills to use.
1975 I got my first job as an illustrator for a plastics moulding company (ITW
Fastex Ltd). However, after a few months, they ran out of illustration work so
they put me in the design department. I stayed there for 9 years designing and
developing products, mostly for the automotive industry.”
time, long before 3D CAD, Alan used pen and ink on polyester film to draw up
designs and soon became a very proficient draftsman and designer.
worked very closely with customers and also worked in tool design, tool making
and was also involved with the moulding process itself. The skills and
knowledge I gained at this time gave me a very solid grounding in product
design and manufacturing.”
his period working at ITW, Alan’s focus changed from focusing on a career path
to dreams of working in motorcycle racing.
at ITW was great because the company, and in particular the tool room manager,
Tim Combes, allowed me the full use of their tool room and model shop
facilities to keep my bike in working order.”
after nine years of competitive racing, motorcycle championships remained a
I wasn’t going to be the next world champion, I had a mortgage, a girlfriend
and increasing commitments, so I looked for a better job.”
Electronics – 1980s
a better job Alan needed to upskill himself and the emergence of 2D CAD was the
obvious route. It wasn’t long before an opportunity at Mars Electronics came
along with almost double Alan’s existing salary as a project manager.
(Electronics) were investing heavily in CAD at the time and eventually, after a
false start, installed several seats of Hewlett Packard’s ME10/ME30. I loved it
and found it a very powerful design tool for its time.”
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(Electronics) was a great company to work for but their core product was
becoming dated and in the four years I worked for them, the industry they were
supplying to was changing very quickly.”
first half of 1980 saw a boom for Mars ultimately, employing nearly 1000 members
of staff, but rapidly growing competition in Europe and the Far East meant that
their massive share of a steady world market started to diminish.”
of Visitech – the 1990s
my employment, I had been doing a little work on the side with small design
jobs but also with a lot of graphic design projects. I still thought I wanted a
career in Graphic Design, so I inquired about the redundancy package. Mars told
me what they would give me if it went through, so I was determined to go for
it. The package wasn’t particularly generous but more than enough to start a
Graphic Design business… so, I set the wheels in motion.”
company name Visitech, a play on visual and technical design, Alan put together
a business plan and set up a Barclays business account and even started
trading. But like any business venture, it is never plain sailing.
dream of being a graphic designer didn’t last long though. Soon Alan realised
there were more work and more money in product design.
back to the drawing board and offered mechanical design services using pen and
paper. I took on a lot of work for Mars (Electronics) and there was growing
pressure from them and other customers to buy a CAD system.”
investigated the whole CAD market, but because I had learnt how to use it and
because of the help that Solid Solutions gave me, I bought one seat of
A software Solid Solutions used to support in the early 1990s which became
Solid Designer, a Co-Create product. No longer supported).
to SOLIDWORKS – 1998
two seats of SolidDesigner (now a PTC product) was proving costly. “It was
horrendously expensive and with a general depression in UK manufacturing during
the late 1990s I needed to rethink my whole business.”
said goodbye to the contractors, stopped his support contract for Solid
Designer and went back to working from home. But by this time there was a new
kid on the block, SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, which offered professional-grade 3D
modelling and it wasn’t long before Alan and Mars Electronics joined Solid
Solutions in moving to SOLIDWORKS. (SOLIDWORKS was released in 1995)
Electronics must have been thinking the similar things and they moved from
SolidDesigner to SOLIDWORKS in or around 1998. MEI (as they were then known)
asked if I would do a short contract with them developing a brand new product
for the cash handling industry. This meant I had to work on-site at Winnersh
and I had to learn how to use SOLIDWORKS 98. That was my cue to ditch Solid
Designer and move to SOLIDWORKS. It’s been SOLIDWORKS ever since.”
Through the ‘Naughties’ – 2000s
adopting SOLIDWORKS with Solid Solutions, Alan has worked on a variety of
products in numerous industries including the automotive, aerospace, white
goods and leisure industry.
experience in sheet metal, castings, composites and glass allows Alan to work
on some unique projects for both large corporations and one-off products for
private individuals. Renowned inventor Dr John Taylor enlisted Visitech’s
services to help with the creation of the now-famous Corpus Clock with its time
Corpus Clock is the invention of Dr John Taylor and was created with the help
of several engineers and artists including Alan Meeks. The Graticule or
Measuring Dish for the Corpus Clock was designed and created by Visitech using
SOLIDWORKS and CNC machined in aluminium and silver before gold and rhodium
plating. It was unveiled at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge on 19th September
2008 by Prof Stephen Hawking.
have most probably seen some of Alan’s work on the big screen recently.
shoulders with Hollywood Alan has “experience in the film industry, supporting
costume departments for Warner and Disney. Including several of the Star Wars
films. In contrast, he also has experience in jig and tool design, in
special-purpose machinery, complex mechanisms and engine design”. There’s
nothing like bringing you back to earth than designing a crankshaft, connecting
rod and sump!