Having already established the Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL) at the University of Washington in the U.S., and having recently shown off its carbon-fiber talents at a composites tradeshow in Paris, Lamborghini is already well poised to be a leader in the auto industry when it comes to manufacturing the lightweight stuff.
However, now the sports car company is strengthening its position in the field of carbon-fiber development with the announcement of a new Advanced Composites Research Center (ACRC) at its headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese. The center will carry out research on new design and production methods for carbon-fiber elements, and it has already come up with a reliable manufacturing process for extremely complex carbon-fiber structures.
Thanks to the ACRC’s developments, Lamborghini can use minimal pressure and relatively low temperatures to manufacture carbon-fiber components to relatively high levels of quality, precision and surface finish, from small parts to complex vehicle structures. Further benefits include higher process speeds, lower costs, and extremely light tooling.
Carbon-fiber is seen by many in the auto industry as one of the most effective ways of reducing vehicle weight and improving fuel economy and emissions levels, but the relative expense of the material means that it’s still reserved for only a handful of high-end production cars. BMW has effectively used carbon-fiber roofs for its M cars to help lower their center of gravity, and Nissan and General Motors have used the composite material to help save weight for the GT-R and ZR1 supercars.
For most automakers, mainstream carbon-fiber use is still several years away but a number of firms, like Lamborghini, are spending up to help turn this trend around.
Eventually, we could see Lamborghini follow McLaren’s lead and build the chassis as well as the bodies of its future models completely out of carbon-fiber. Such a structure could be around four times as strong as steel but weigh even less than aluminum.