Briefed with reinventing the best helmet in cricket, many product designers would be stumped. Visitech stepped up to the crease and knocked the challenge for six – with a little help from SOLIDWORKS Simulation…
Say hello to Alan Meeks, product designer extraordinaire. Back when he formed his design company Visitech in 1989, he had no idea that just over two decades later he would be helping to create some of the most popular helmets in cricket. But that’s exactly what would happen when cricketing equipment manufacturer Masuri came knocking in 2011.
Introducing Masuri: designers of the world’s finest cricket helmets
The world’s best batsmen are fearless. But when an in-form bowler is racing towards you, readying themselves to launch a solid 160g lump of leather-encased cork towards you at up to 80mph, let’s just say it helps if you are confident in your safety equipment. Masuri knows that better than most and since 1988 have been restlessly innovating helmet design to give legendary batsmen like Brian Lara and Mike Atherton extra confidence behind the crease. In short, Masuri push boundaries to help top players hit boundaries. Today Masuri remain the most widely used helmet brand in international cricket.
Masuri got to where it is by innovating. In 1988 it created the now commonplace stainless steel helmet grille. After switching manufacturing from Cape Town to the UK in 2011, the brains behind Masuri realised that cricket was becoming more dangerous, with increasing head and facial injuries to batsmen. Sporting authorities both in the UK and abroad were calling for increased safety standards for helmets and visors. Rightly so.
Having teamed up with Vistech, Masuri doubled down on its design efforts to create helmets that were safer, more reliable and of consistently high quality. The modern helmet had to be capable of absorbing the high impact of a cricket ball making contact at 80mph. It also had to feature a visor that prevented the ball hitting the batsman’s face, without obstructing their field of vision. The top of the range helmets that Masuri created, far exceeded minimum safety regulations and became the latest successes in Masuri’s pioneering history.
Yet it was when Visitech was asked to reinvent Masuri’s internationally renowned helmet that Alan Meeks’ product design skills came into their own.
How did SOLIDWORKS help?
Masuri’s top of the range helmets are made to exacting standards. They provide batsmen with an excellent field of vision and are made with the highest quality materials and finishes. The only problem? They are expensive to produce. Eager to expand into the club-level market, Masuri asked Visitech to create a helmet that was robust enough to surpass safety regulations yet economical to produce; affordable enough for club players and hobbyists yet capable of the high performance expected from Masuri products.
SOLIDWORKS devotees since 1998, Visitech leapt at the challenge and began finding ways to optimise the Masuri blueprint for cost vs. strength vs. visibility. Using SOLIDWORKS Simulation to test the strengths and weaknesses of the helmet, Visitech was able to get the best out of the helmet mouldings using the minimum amount of metal and plastic. In other words, SOLIDWORKS made it possible to test exactly how paring back the materials would affect the strength of the helmet in the real world – without the need for costly prototyping for each iteration.
The result is the recently released Legacy series of helmets which are already becoming a huge success.
Innovators never stand still…
The tragic death in 2014 of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes after being struck in the neck by a cricket ball highlighted that there is never room for complacency in helmet design. Again working with Visitech, Masuri has released a clip-on addition to their helmet range called the Stem Guard. Made with TPU honeycomb and military-grade crush foam, after consultation with cricket’s governing bodies, the Stem Guard protects the vulnerable parts of the neck and provides high impact absorption for batsmen without hindering mobility.
What’s next for Visitech?
The relationship between Visitech and Masuri has grown from strength to strength. Regardless of what you think of cricket, five years and not out isn’t a bad partnership. With SOLIDWORKS on board, we are not about to bet against their continued innovation and productivity in cricket safety equipment.
You might also be interested in:
>> Plymouth University goes for land speed record in Nevada