Lamborghini has opened a new Advanced Composites Research Center (ACRC) at its headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese. The center will carry out research on innovative design and production methods for carbon-fibre elements.

Lamborghini has just opened its new Advanced Composites Research Center (ACRC) at its headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy. The new center will now carry out research on innovative design and production methods relating to carbon-fibre elements.
Both the ACRC and an all-new production process for extremely complex carbon-fibre structures now in place have been 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.

“The consistent development of carbon-fibre technology is a key element of our strategy,” says Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. “The most important parameter for super sportscars is, now as in the future, the weight-to-power ratio; therefore, as there is a limit to power increase due to emission regulations, we must work on weight reduction. Extensive use of carbon fibre, even at structural level, allows Lamborghini to be at the forefront of development techniques. The real difference is in the correct use of technologies and materials to satisfy technical and financial concerns. This is what the Center is all about.”

Key technology

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 sports car is improving its power-to-weight ratio and thus its performance. A car built using composite materials in carbon-fibre has improved acceleration and braking as well as superior handling.

Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera: lightweight engineering champion thanks to carbon fibre

The Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, launched earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show, offers a perfect example: compared with the Gallardo LP 560-4, its weight has been trimmed by a further 70 kilograms. One major contributing factor has been the use of exterior and interior components made from carbon fibre. The sports car weighs in at no more than 1340 kilograms.

Over thirty years of experience at Lamborghini

Lamborghini has many years’ experience in composite elements. The first carbon-fibre based chassis prototype was built for the Countach as far back as 1983. Series production parts first appeared in 1985. The current Lamborghini Murciélago is built largely of carbon-fibre, with 93 kilograms of structural carbon-fibre materials in its bodyshell. The Gallardo Spyder’s engine cover is the largest component ever produced in the automotive world with RTM technology and a class-A surface optimum finish.

ACRC’s functions

The new Lamborghini Advanced Composite Research Center 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-fibre structures.

Focus on innovative technologies

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-fibre parts under high pressure and temperatures. Efforts focus, however, on “out of autoclave” technologies such as Resin Transfer Molding (RTM), whereby carbon-fibre structures are compressed under high pressure; or vacuum RTM, whereby resin is forced into carbon-fibre using negative pressure.

Breakthrough on production processes

Lamborghini ACRD’s specialists have already achieved a definitive breakthrough with the invention of an innovative technology: they have developed one new process which combines the benefits of existing methods. Thanks to the extensively patented “RTM light” process, Lamborghini can use minimal pressure and relatively low temperatures to manufacture carbon-fibre components to the highest 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.

World-leading expertise in crash simulation

Carbon-fibre materials have impressive advantages. However, exceptional levels of expertise are necessary in order to muster fully their application as, for instance, in crash simulation. Together with The Boeing Company, Lamborghini initiated a crash analysis research program in 2007. In 2009, the Automobili Lamborghini Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL) was established at the University of Washington, with Boeing and other US companies as partners. Around 20 scientists work in the fully-equipped laboratory and support the team in Sant’Agata Bolognese primarily in the field of crash and dynamics analysis. Results so far achieved have delivered extensive benefits to Lamborghini cars’ safety and build quality.


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