I’m Žiga and I would like to share the story of how my father’s words inspired me to develop motor boats wheels.
Igor, my father and founder of Carbonautica, walked into my office with a stack of paper in his hands. He waved them around as he spoke: “Žiga, you gotta keep this up,” he said, referring to the designs of new wheels we had been working on.
“Hmmm,” I said, “what part of wheel should we keep developing, Igor?”
“I don’t care,” he said. “Doesn’t matter. You will simply know that you are on the right path.” He leaned back in his chair. “But don’t lose your inspiration.”
I looked at him. Sometimes, in some situations, it can be very tense between us.
“Look,” he leaned forward, “you have decent designs now… but you’ll only get better if you keep working…” he winced for emphasis, “every day.”
With summer fast approaching, I knew that this was a crucial time to make a breakthrough. It made me think: I need to do everything to make it happen, just like my father did to make the best steering wheels for sailboats. And I did — I was developing all summer long. And eventually, we developed a steering wheel for boats, that was unlike anything else on the market. Thanks to my father, I was able to achieve something truly great.
All because someone I admired (my father) said: Don’t give up.
Wanna change your industry?
Don’t give up, keep developing. And you will change your industry, maybe forever.
Here’s to my father, who believed and still believes in me.
In a world where innovation and striving for improvements are at the forefront of our priorities, investing in development is necessary. Thanks to our creative team, which I often refer to as my crew, we create products under the globally recognized brand Carbonautica. Together, we sail towards success.
In the spring of 2021, we made a bold decision to expand our product line of luxury carbon fiber and GFC sailboat steering wheels into a new segment of motorboats. Our goal was to develop a visually unique steering wheel that has not yet been seen on the market. We started the development process with the goal to produce a high-quality product with a unique design, as we always do.
“From Concept to Product: Overcoming Obstacles in Development”
In our company, I have been actively involved in all production processes since I started working here. However, this time I have been given my greatest responsibility yet. My father entrusted me with the entire management of the development of a new product. With great enthusiasm and some fear, I took on the challenge. In the following, I will present to you how we developed a new steering wheel for motorboats and the challenges we had to overcome along the way.
As with all our products, the design of the motor steering series was developed in-house. Our designer sketched 30 different concepts on paper, which are not yet available on the market and are therefore something special. Their design requires a demanding structural development and manufacturing process, to which we dedicated more time to, after choosing the final version. Some of the most interesting concepts were transferred to a design program, and the favorites were modeled in 3D form. After months of deliberation and weighing options, we made the final decision. Our steering wheel will feature an aesthetically refined three-spoke construction. The design was named Clover.
Compared to carbon and glass fiber steering wheels for sailboats, the hub in the motorboat control segment is more standardized, but we had to develop a new hub rotation system to be able to center the wheel on any steering system and boat. All composite steering wheels at Carbonautica are made using a special manufacturing process which we developed in the last few years. Trough this process we are able to produce high quality wheels of complex shapes. There are however still limitations to the design that can be made, but this is an area that we are constantly improving on.
We verified the success of our concept development through load tests conducted in our own certified laboratory. I can say that during the testing and implementation of various modifications, we broke 20 steering wheels and planned 5 major structural revisions to arrive at the final version of the product that meets both aesthetic and technical criteria.
The period of design development, manufacturing, and testing was followed by a lengthy and complex process of obtaining certification. We sent the test results from our laboratory in Belgium, to the International Marine Certification Institute for quality and suitability verification. The wheel was finally officially ISO 23411:2020 certified.
In the final stage, we spent a considerable amount of time on selecting the color palette to achieve a balanced color combination. Our boat steering wheels are available in carbon fiber and glass fiber versions, and both can be chosen in black, silver, and red hub colors. Of course, we can also customize all steering wheels to any color from the RAL color chart based on customer preferences.
We have completed over a year of hard work, and the result is a final product with which we have successfully entered the motorboat segment. In the next newsletter, I will present the final step towards launching the new product on the market, serial production. Although it seems that most of the major challenges are behind us and we are on the verge of a successful product launch, we remain committed to continuous improvement and innovation in our production processes.
“Sailing to Success: Launching a New Product into Serial Production”
Last but not least. Although we could say that we are at a point where the hardest part is behind us, integrating a new product into serial production always presents a significant challenge. We were thinking about what our initial production capacity should be, when to start serial production, how much time to dedicate to training personnel on the specifics of the new steering wheel, and so on. In short, when establishing a new facility, it is necessary to carefully consider and make some challenging decisions.
We have decided that before we start serial production of the new boat steering wheels, we will showcase the first products at the world’s largest trade exhibition for marine equipment, materials, and systems, the METSTRADE Show in Amsterdam.
The METSTRADE Show is one of the biggest international B2B exhibitions for the marine leisure industry and has been a platform for innovation, market developments, and networking since its launch in 1988. With some excitement and nervousness about whether the new boat steering wheels will impress major global manufacturers, WE put them on display. I couldn’t wait to hear the first reactions from our partners, who were seeing our new product live for the first time.
Visitors were impressed with the refined three-spoke steering wheel design, which features no visible mould seams. Other manufacturers of carbon-based nautical products also showed interest in the complexity of manufacturing such a design.
The fact that our new motor boat wheel has already been incorporated into the serial production of electric boats by a boat manufacturer such as Delphia is a testament to the successful launch of this new product.
Positive feedback from major global manufacturers that we received at the exhibition in December 2022 encouraged us to start serial production. Now we have successfully launched the product on the market and are happy to receive feedback from satisfied customers.
The innovative use of carbon and glass fiber, has positioned the product as the world’s first serially produced composite motor boat steering wheel. It boasts excellent grip, thanks to the material it does not heat up or cool down, does not oxidize, and does not require maintenance. We must agree that the product is a design masterpiece that satisfies even the most demanding sailor.
Developing new products is like sailing through rough seas, with waves as obstacles crashing against us, but with our knowledge and experience, we sail successfully in the direction we have set.