Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. has announced a new Advanced Composites Research centre (ACRC) at its headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese. The centre carries out research on innovative design and production methods for carbon-fiber elements. Both the ACRC and an all-new, highly efficient production process for extremely complex carbon-fiber structures were developed at the same time. The process is secured through an array of patents and constitutes a breakthrough into the next generation of carbon-fiber components.
Carbon composite materials are crucial to tomorrow’s automotive engineering, especially for high-performance sports cars. These materials are made from carbon-fiber reinforced polymers and combine the lowest possible weight with excellent mechanical properties. Cars become lighter, thus improving fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The decisive factor for any sportscar is improving its power-to-weight ratio and thus its performance. A super sportscar built using composite materials in carbon fiber has improved acceleration and braking as well as superior handling.
The current Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera offers a perfect example: compared with the already extremely lean Gallardo LP 560-4, its weight has been trimmed by a further 70 kilograms. One major contributing factor is use of exterior and interior components made from carbon fiber. The super sportscar from Sant’Agata Bolognese weighs in at no more than 1340 kilograms – the new benchmark for the exclusive market segment occupied by Lamborghini.
The new Lamborghini Advanced Composite Research centre comprises two facilities covering an area of more than 2,600 square meters. A team of 30 people, engineers and technicians, works here to develop vehicle components of all shapes and sizes. They build prototypes and the associated tools, production tools, and develop optimised production technologies. Sophisticated systems largely developed in-house allow extremely high precision levels as engineers simulate manufacturing processes as well as carry out crash tests on complex carbon-fiber structures.
The ACRC is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, such as a test laboratory with sophisticated testing and measuring devices, automated cutting and casting equipment, a heated, 1,000 ton press and several autoclaves to harden carbon-fiber parts under high pressure and temperatures. Efforts focus, however, on “out of autoclave” technologies such as Resin Transfer Molding (RTM), whereby carbon-fiber structures are compressed under high pressure; or vacuum RTM, whereby resin is forced into carbon-fiber using negative pressure.Published 14 July 2010