Tuesday, 12 February 2019

a very different year

Wow. What a year 2018 was...

As mentioned last year, Dan was fortunate enough to have joined Rachael Tapp at Smart Sail Systems Ltd, whilst still working hard at Light Black Design.

In the end, it turned out that the majority of his working day was taken up by the Smart Sail technology, with many long evenings spent doing other more "traditional" work with people like Antony Dodworth at Bright Lite Structures, Tim Tavinor, Simon Fry and Andy Beadsworth at Petticrows with their World Championship winning Dragon, Humphrey and Jaffa at CeCence, Oscar Mead at TeamO and Neil Cheston at Kabina.

Dan's principal role at Smart Sail, now known as We-Sense, was to find potential partners and investors whilst working with Rachael to make sure that the final product works as he feels it should do for the sailors. Dan was able to draw on his long list of friends, in key positions, within the sailing industry, to help guide ever section of both the software and hardware.

Key to the success of our business at We-Sense was signing a deal with Spinlock UK, who will take over the entire production, sales, and marketing of the Smart Sail technology we developed, which is now called Sail Sense to fit in with the Spinlock Sense sector of their business. This was a fantastic opportunity for all parties and gives our technology the best chance of success in the Marine Sectors.

Another huge advantage of our partnership with Spinlock was the chance to be nominated in the DAME awards, at METS in Amsterdam. Not only did the Sail Sense product and app win its highly competitive sector (Marine Electronics) but it also came a close second overall. Something that we are all extremely proud of. A huge thank you to all involved!

So now, as Dan & Rachael work with Spinlock to make sure the last few items on the job list are completed, they are talking to all the other industries that have approached We-Sense, to see how many can use the same baseline technology to monitor such things as shock and vibration in seats (both marine and industrial applications such as RIB & forklift seats etc).

Although all that has taken the majority of the year, as mentioned above, Dan was also extremely fortunate to work with a number of other people on a huge range of projects, some of which are shown below.

Friday, 9 March 2018

2017 saw a huge range of very different projects.

I hate it when you look at companies "latest news" and it's from a year ago, so I have let myself down here a bit. My only excuse was it was quite a busy year...

The vast majority of the initial work I was lucky enough to be involved with in 2017 was with Ben Scott-Geddes from (an Italian OEM), carrying on helping them develop some composite parts for certain road cars. Much as I would like to say what cars they are, I cant.... All I can say is that the study was extremely successful, with the finished parts costing very close to the aluminum parts whilst improving the performance of the car. Which was the initial aim of the project.

I was also lucky enough to help our Ben Ainslie's LR BAR team with the development of their final race spec steering wheels for their America's Cup Race boat. Once again, not much I can say on that project either, apart from to say that as far as I believe, they made it on the final boat!

In mid March, I was contacted by Neil Cheston, who has started a business called Kabina, who are creating great new homes for the UK's floodzones. I have been working closely with both Neil and Guy Lane in creating some of the basic concepts for them, and looking at some of the mass and geometry aspects to make sure the houses all float at the correct time.

In amoungst doing these bigger projects, I have been working woth Simon Fry and his various projects with Provezza. We did some "NVH tweeks" for the TP52 and some work on the Dragon.

As per the last few years, we have been lucky to carry on all the work we have been doing with Antony Dodworth, from Bright Lite Structures. This work has predominatly been on the various aerospace projects he is working on, doing some of the part and tooling design for him.

And finally, and perhaps most exciting, in September 2017 I was introduced to Rachael Tapp, who had founded a start up business called SmartSail Systems and joined her business as a shareholder and director to help her get the SmartSail devices into production.

In simple terms, SmartSail is the only product available for all sailors that monitors the usage, wear & tear and location of all the sails. It is a small device that is fitted to a sail by the sailmaker, and has the sail ID encoded within (i.e. when the sail was made, what materials, what mould etc, how many days before service, how many days before replacement etc). Using the Smart Sail App, the sailors and sailmakers can then continually track the usage and location of that sail. It monitors such items as hours of flogging, hours in UV, where the sail is, temperature range, how may tacks etc. This data is also processed through bespoke cloud based algorithms that we have created with the University of Southampton, which will say how much “life” is left in the sail in relation to the type of sail cloth and hours on UV and flogging etc. Much the same as your car tells you when to get it serviced.

We are both working hard, throughout this year with the business and will be going into full production early in 2019.....

All in all, a very good year.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

2016. So far....

2016 has been another great year working closely with a range of companies in the plane, train and automobile (and a bit of boat...) industries. We've even been giving some advice to a company building a flying car.....
Dan started Light Black Design, just over 7 years ago, with the aim of helping the boat world reduce costs and improve efficiency by passing on some of the advances in composite technologies that the car world had made. That knowledge has now allowed Light Black Design to help almost all possible modes of transport. And the best thing about being involved in so many different projects is that each and every one does something differently and allows us to pass on that information to others.

Starting with Planes.....
Most of 2016 has been with Acro Aircraft Seating again. This year we have been continuing the work we started with the all composite, economy Series 6 seat backs, working closely with the material suppliers and part manufacturers to help them develop the designs to suit the materials and processes. This will be the first all composite seatback that really is cost effective for economy aircraft seats whilst still giving the weight savings possible from using carbon fibre composites, which is so important in the commercial aircraft seating industry.

Acro Aircraft Seating Series 6
This seat has been shown all over the world and goes into full production with a world leading airline in the coming months.

We have also been work with Acro on their future Premium Economy seatSeries 7. Once again, this is a seat that has been shown all over the world and has had some amazing reviews. Dan has been helping them with materials and processes as well looking at some of the smaller details in the overall setup of the seat.
Acro Aircraft Seating Series 7

Acro Aircraft Seating Series 7

To trains.....
Working with Acro lead us to some work with Transcal. Their CEO, Robert Aitken, questioned why Train seats are not as comfortable as Plane seats, especially when one considers the price paid for train tickets compared to the low cost plane tickets that the Acro seats seen on.
Transcal AeroLite

Transcal AeroLite

With this in mind, and working closely with Factory Design in London, Dan helped engineer this revolutionary Rail seat, that was unveiled at InnoTrans earlier this year.

To Cars....
Having finished working with Ben Ainslie's Americas Cup team in February (that's the boat bit...) Dan was extremely lucky to been given the opportunity to work with an Italian road car company, helping them develop some structural, composite parts that could form the basis of future cars of their production lines.

Alongside this ongoing project, Dan has also been working with a UK manufacturer on an all composite, driver-less taxi for the US markets. Working closely with a world-class team, Dan has generated the conceptual geometry for the chassis and all the BIW (B?) that could form the basis of the prototype vehicles that will be built in the coming months.


As proud as we are of both these projects, we obviously cannot say who we are working with but as soon as the projects go public we will of course show as much as we can.

And finally, to somewhere between cars and planes....
Dan has been contacted by a new European company to help them with some production materials and processing choices for their highly advanced carbon fibre chassis/cockpit. The engineering of this car/plane is being run by an old friend, who Dan worked with at McLaren Automotive.
Although our part in this amazing project is only in its very earliest stages, and there is not much more we can say at the moment, we really look forward to having this chance to work on something that really is out of this world.

Monday, 29 February 2016

2015. What a year....

2015 was an extremely busy year for Light Black Design.....

We have been very lucky to be carrying on the work we have been doing with Acro Aircraft Seating, helping them develop their next few economy class, lightweight seating. All this work culminates in the first showing of their new Series 6 seats at the Hamburg AirCraft Interiors Expo on April 5th to 7th. Until then, we obviously cant show you these seats but we will of course put a load on our Twitter feed once the press get to see them....

These final release of the seats is an evolution of the seats that were on display last year

Since that show, the NPD team (New Products Development) has been formed and now has around 12 engineers working in it, looking at not only this release of the Series 6 seats, but Series 7 & 8 too. Light Black Designs role in the office is to work with all the NPD group and composite suppliers, to engineer these seats to be the most comfortable, reliable, lightweight, low costs seats on the market. And those requirements, in that order, are straight from the mouth of Chris Brady, who is the MD of Acro and whose general amazing ethos is the reason that they are on of the most successful companies in the country. Well done Chris!

Once again, we will keep you up-to-date on these seats as an when they are released, and we wish all at Acro the best of luck for the show.

And for the rest of the week, Dan was lucky enough to have been asked to fill a few gaps in the Design Team at Land Rover BAR, working mainly on their second test boat, T2 Whilst always intended as a temporary role for Dan, whilst they sort out the full numbers in the design office, it was a fantastic team to be part for 11 months and we wish them every success in the future. And if you look at the results from this last weekend in Oman, it looks like they are well on track.

What was fantastic to see was Sir Ben's vision, looking outside of the usual people involved in the Americas cup, and bringing in some of the top people, materials and processes from the other advanced composite industries, such as Motorsport and getting them all to work together to make his team even better. This is always a brave thing to do, and other teams have made it clear they think the best thing to do is only with people who have done the Americas cup. Safe, but maybe limits your possibilities. So, Land Rover BAR now have a fantastic team of people, from a wide range of backgrounds, who will all be able to provide valuable input, based on other projects they have worked on that may just open up some avenues that other teams may not see. Good luck Ben.

So, back to 2016 and we are looking forward to continuing our work with Acro Aircraft Seating as well some other automotive projects, both high and low volume, that seem to be all lining themselves very nicely indeed. And in-between all these projects we Dan will be carrying on the development work of the Flattens, in particular the latest FL015 spec Flatten, for one design boats such as the J70, M20, M24 etc which have all been looking for a horizontal, furling batten that works like the flattens do. Following on from some amazing results in the J70 worlds and Europeans in 2015 where used some development FL015's to great success, this is something we cant wait to get back onto. 

And whilst it was fantastic to be other peoples offices for most of 2015, the view from our little office isn't so bad after-all.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Moving offices (again...)

We have now moved our office a few metres down the road (its a long story...) to:

4 Lippen Cottages
West Meon
GU32 1JW

All the contact numbers have remained the same.

Many thanks


Friday, 24 October 2014

Moving Office

As of the end of October 2014, our office will be moving a few miles down the road to:

Light Black Design Ltd
2 Lippen Cottages
West Meon
GU32 1JW

Until we get all the office landlines installed, please contact Dan on +44 (0) 777 864 875

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Some of the projects we were invoved with in 2013 & early 2014

Continuing on from all the successful projects to date, we continued to work in the aircraft, road car and marine sectors.
Of particular interest was a project with Antony Dodworth where we re-engineered all the geometry (to suit the processing and materials) and engineered the tooling for a carbon fibre bonnet for a mainstream German OEM, that will go into production in the coming years. As usual, we cant say too much about the project, but when it does go into production it will change the whole way composite parts are looked at for mainstream automotive projects.

 We have also been worked on a medium volume composite seat for an Italian OEM, that could be pressed in under 5 minutes. This project involved a huge amount of detailed composite FEA that was run in-house here at Light Black Design.
On the Aircraft side of things, we continued to work with the same supplier as we worked with last year, and helped them optimise various packages and structures, and continue to work with them today. This work is really interesting as taking weight out of any aircraft part is vital, whilst still meeting the stringent regulations that the industry has.
Light Black Design Limited ©2014

And in the marine sectors most of the work we have done is connected to the Flattens project with Primrose Fry Technologies. This can be seen at PF-Technologies.
Light Black Design Limited ©2014

Light Black Design Limited ©2014

We also worked on various projects with Futuremech. This is company run by Humphrey Bunyan, who was instrumental in setting up all of Future Fibres machinery and processes they use in producing some of the most advanced composite masts and rigging in the marine industry. These projects ranges from one-piece, furling, carbon fibre head stay systems to high volume composite parts for the rail industry.

And then, in-between these other marine projects we even looked at a modern version of the Seal 22 (that was designed by Dan's father, Angus Primrose, in the late '60's). Whilst its unlikely that this will ever go into production, it was fun to look at....

Light Black Design Limited ©2014

Light Black Design Limited ©2014

Some of the main events we will be at in 2014

Following the great receptions we got at last years shows, we will be at the following events. If anyone wants to meet up with us, just drop us a mail at Info(at)LightBlackDesign(dot)com.
Southampton Boat show, Dan will be there on the 12th September
Composite Engineering Show, NEC, UK. Dan will be there on the 11th November
METS 2014, Amsterdam. Dan will be on the 19th and 20th November
We look forward to seeing you there.

Friday, 1 February 2013

what we did for the rest of 2012....

Conscious that we haven't been very good at updating this website, and having spent most of 2012 working with Simon and Oscar, developing our Flattens, for Primrose Fry Technologies, there was little time to get much Light Black Design work done. But having said that, we had quite a few enquiries and now that 2013 has started we will be talking to all those people, who are all looking to improve the efficiency of  their existing and future projects, and starting to work with them all as soon as we can give them our uninterrupted attention.
Whilst we cant discuss the actual names of the people we are talking to, the products we hope to be working with range from composite wheelchairs to lightweight aircraft seatsadvanced composite road cars to medium volume Taxis, from Injection moulded Instrument Panel covers to Test Rigs for one of the UK Olympic Hopefuls in the 49er in the 2016 games. All of these projects will allow us to apply the knowledge we have gained over the last 20 years of working with a wide range of advanced materials, from F1 grade carbon fibres to precision machined metallic alloys, where will work with their engineering teams to further optimise all areas of their processes, from Design and Analysis right through to production Tooling and Parts.
Light Black Design 49er test Rig Concept

Light Black Design Cover Panel for ICOM Concept
Light Black Design Aerospace Arm Rest Concept

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Dan sets up a new company to run alongside Light Black Design

Earlier in 2012, Dan Primrose and Simon Fry set up new British company called Primrose Fry Technologies Ltd, to work alongside their existing businesses, and allow them both to bring their ideas to market.

In January 2012 at the London Boatshow, Simon and Dan met many of the key people within Yachting business, to reveal to them their Flattens for the very first time.

Whilst we cannot say much more at this time, what we are extremely proud to say is that they were extremely well received, and we look forward to the Official Launch of Flattens later on this year.
Primrose Fry Technologies Limited

Following the increasing interest for the Flattens, Simon and Dan asked Oscar Strugstad to join then as Chairman of PF Technologies which we are happy to say he accepted, and we are all working hard to ensure the maximum success for the business.

In the meantime, if you require any information, please do not hesitate to email Dan or Simon at Dan (at) PF-Technologies dot com or Simon (at) PF-Technologies dot com or call the UK office on +44 1730 828 188. Any public updates will appear at

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Body Engineering of Karsan Taxi

Earlier this year, Light Black Design were contracted by Hexagon Studio to do the full Body Engineering of the critical sections for the exterior panels of their Taxi Project, intended for worldwide production in 2012.

As we posted in January, this project was intended as a replacement for the NY Cabs. Whilst it is unfortunate that they were beaten at the final-post by Nissan, Hexagon Studio (and their parent company Karsan) took note of all the positive support for their taxi, and made a very quick decision to produce the vehicle for a range of alternative customers.

Whilst the specific details of this project are confidential at this point in time, what we can say is that the first stage of the project for Light Black Design involved working closely with the Hexagon Studio's principal engineers, designers and manufacturers, where we were able to offer our vast knowledge of working with a large range of lightweight materials, to help their engineers select the most appropriate materials and processing methods for the Exterior Panels of the vehicle.
Light Black Design Limited
Following this initial investigation we have been busy generating extremely detailed documents that will form the principal guidelines for our clients engineers to fully define all the exterior panels and the associated fixing methodology to fit the panels to the BIW (Body in White).

Alongside this engineering ssection of the project, we have also written a selection of  "How to..." guides which will give all their engineers a range of handbooks that will enable them all to design and engineer theses type of panel in the future, in materials that they might not have traditionally used in the past.

All this work is being done both in 2D and 3D formats, using Catia V5

Monday, 14 February 2011

Rotating foils on Yacht Rigging - upwind sailing in only about 3 knots true wind

In this video we can see how the foils that we designed for Future Fibres, in Spain, work as we sail upwind, in only about 3 knots true wind speed.....

What is critical to the success of these foils is that each one is designed so that it creates to most efficient aerofoils shape (a NACA section) for that particular section of standing rigging.

This means that the drag from the airflow over each linear length of rigging is potentially reduced by as much as 75% when compared to the bare, circular rigging it covers. And because they are free to rotate 180 degrees, they will always line up with the airflow, as it changes over the height of the rig.

And perhaps whats more significant than the reduction in drag is the fact the downstream air flow is much less disturbed, and thus increases the potential power that can be produced from the mainsail. Where traditionally we can find that the airflow downstream of simple rod rigging may not have stabilised for some distance after passing the rigging, the flow over a foil such as these can be up to nominal speed some 20mm after passing the rigging.

And perhaps the last point to make here in this brief article is that they can be fitted to any existing (circular) rigging, and wont be penalised under IRC (at the time of writing...!)

In the following posts you can see how the foils work in more breeze upwind, and also how they work as we hoist and gybe an asymmetric genneker in light winds.....

For more information on these foils, contact Future Fibres in Spain, or take a look at their site at

Rotating foils on Yacht Rigging - Sailing Upwind in about 5 knots TWS

In this video we can see how the foils that we designed for Future Fibres, in Spain, work as we sail upwind and the True wind speed increases to only about 5 knots.

Rotating foils on Yacht Rigging - Upwind as the wind increases to about 6 knots

In this video we can see how the foils that we designed for Future Fibres, in Spain, work as the true wind increases to about 5 knots.

Rotating foils on Yacht Rigging - Hoist

In this video we can see how the foils that we designed for Future Fibres, in Spain, work as the asymmetric genneker is hoisted in light airs.

Rotating foils on Yacht Rigging - Gybe

In this video we can clearly see how the foils we designed for Future Fibres, in Spain, work as the boat is gybed, in light airs.

Friday, 28 January 2011

How we use Catia V5 in the office

Once again, the automotive design offices are in a extremely privileged position to have the most advanced 3D CAD systems as standard. Whilst there are a number to choose from, throughout the majority of the 14 years I was lucky enough to be in various offices like McLaren Automotive, Caparo and Gordon Murray Design we all used Dassault Systemes CATIA.
Although the initial investment is often hard to justify, I 100% believe that if the software is used properly and used in as many of the design stages as possible (i.e. from initial concepts right through to even the hydrodynamics of a yacht) the costs can be justified.

Whilst it is easy for me to say that it can be used efficiently, after 14 years sitting behind my CAD screen, it is a daunting task taking on a new design tool such as this, and the hard bit starts right from the start when you try and decide which of the many options you want/need. In the marine markets these generally range from styling tools, naval architecture, general 3D CAD right through to the composite FEA software. And of course, if you have the budget, these options could end up costing a frightening amount of money. But in most offices, the users just need some surfacing and then some solid generating tools, together with the standard 2D packages. And in fact its not until you need to generate A-Class surfaces (exterior panels) for cars that you need all the top level surfacing tools, particularly if you are importing your hull and foil shapes from other software.

To cut a long story short, I believe that having a tool such as Catia will help everyone in a design office. And due to the fact that the design process withing Catia is all parametric, if you need to go back and change anything it is easy. This makes it significantly faster to create not only the first parts but also the next parts if they are similar. It allows all the designers and engineers to see what everyone else is doing in the office as you can generate large assemblies on your screen and hence reduces errors. It will help to manage to the design process from start to finish, with its data management software called SmarTeam. This allows the engineers to do the design work, send it to the line managers for sign off, and then allows the rest of the office (purchasing, manufacturing etc) to see and download the relevant information.

To get over the first hurdle of trying to choose what I needed, I worked very closely with a company called Intrinsys, in the UK. They are one of the companies that sell CATIA, and are the people you should go to if you are connected to the marine business. The main reason I chose to buy from them is that having worked with them when I was at Caparo, where they supported us in setting up our own unique solutions to how we wanted the design office to work, I know that whilst they are "salesmen" for CATIA, whats more important is that they are first and foremost, users of the software, and in fact the majority of their engineers on site are working on internal projects designing advanced automotive components for internal and external projects. This is vital when wandering down a "new path" as they were able to give me honest answers and will always be there on the end of the phone if it doesn't all go quite how I was hoping it might...! And for those of you thinking that your office just cannot justify this sort of software, then give them a call and I am sure you will be surprised just how much it might cost.....

So now I am in a position to be able to offer some help or design work to any of the design offices out there who are looking into using this type of software, or who have already chosen it but need more parts designed and engineered.

If any further details are required or if you may have a possible application for this process, then please contact us at any time at