As you may or may not know, I’m the founder and ex-owner of Taichi Sim Racing Wheels (Taichi SRW) that produce replica and customised steering wheels for racing simulators. I sold the entire business and partially left the team as of 1st February.
So here I’d like to share one of the most hectic moments in my life so far.
Before diving in, I just want to say that I desire to be neither a businessman nor an entrepreneur. I’m just a guy who finds it extremely interesting to make things.
As I mentioned about my DIY projects in ‘Who am I?’, I first started to design my steering wheels back in March 2018. Almost a year later, I managed to complete the very first one: LMP2 replica wheel. After getting rather impressive impressions from simracing communities mainly on RaceDepartment about the wheel rim, one of my simracing teammates asked me if I could custom make one for himself.
The wheel he’d asked was Corvette C7.R GTE’s replica wheel. Having successfully built an LMP2 wheel, it wasn’t that hard to design and make one. I didn’t make that much money off it though simply because I made some upgrades right before sending it all the way to Australia. The original spec was alright but I just didn’t want to allow me selling something that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with; even a fraction of detail mattered, although seeing the product after a year-ish makes me feel like I should ask him to send it back to properly finish it.
Shortly after completing my first product, two other teammates ordered wheel rims: AMG GT3 and F1 ver.1 wheel. And I was like, ‘Now, I’ve received three orders in a couple of months. What do I do?’
On 1st July 2019, Taichi Sim Racing Wheels was officially founded.
Of course, I was always aiming for top-notch quality products. But it’s not always possible even if you’ve got some ideas for it. Having to keep producing consistent quality products without a proper workshop and funds restricted me technically as well as financially.
Casting grips was a good example. In the early stage of development, smoothing out 3D printed grips was the only way to achieve a better finish. I knew I had to find a way to improve it because it was neither realistic nor quite functional. The process of casting rubber grips isn’t that hard at all. Once you’ve got a reusable die made out of silicone, you just need to measure weight and time carefully when blending materials. The same process is used in real-life motorsport teams. With a huge amount of time spent on finding the way to improve the feel of 3D printed grips, I thought it’d be a perfect way.
The major issue, however, comes out of your wallet. Silicone and Urethane used to foam grips can easily rocket the price of a product. The only solution for this is mass production which is quite risky for a college student: or for me at least. Considering the risk of failure, BTO (Build to order), which limits the number of products, was the only option on my table and it led me to seek other solutions for a better grip finish.
I’d tried rubber painting, dipping into a rubber pool, etc. but none of them had enough durability. After all, I ended up adopting suede grips to all the models. It may not be realistic, but at least functional.
NOTE: This article is still work in progress. Further updates will follow.