Lamborghini announces new Advanced Composites Research Center (ACRC)

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 26, 2010

To signify Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.'s focus on carbon fiber elements, it has announced a new Advanced Composites Research Center (ACRC) at its headquarters in Sant'Agata Bolognese. The ACRC does research on innovative design and production methods for carbonfiber elements.

Development of the ACRC and an all-new, highly efficient production process for extremely complex carbon-fiber structures was done simultaneously. A series of patents secures this process that boasts of a breakthrough into the next generation of carbon-fiber components.

Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., said that the consistent development of carbon-fiber technology is a "key element" of its strategy. He also said that the most important parameter for super sportscars is the weight-to-power ratio because of the restrictions in power increase due to emission regulations.

Lamborghini is able to stay at the forefront of development techniques because it uses carbonfiber extensively, even at structural level. He added that the"real difference" is its proper utilization of technologies and materials to satisfy technical and financial concerns. He also said, "This is what the Center is all about."

Carbon composite materials are essential to automotive engineering in the future, particularly for high-performance sports cars. These materials consist of carbon-fiber reinforced polymers and have excellent mechanical properties with the lowest possible weight.

When cars have reduced weights, fuel consumption is improved and there are less CO2 emissions. For any sportscar to improve its performance, the decisive factor is improving its power-to-weight ratio. A super sportscar that's produced using composite materials in carbon fiber offers excellent handling as well as better acceleration and braking.

Due to its use of carbon fiber, the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera deserves the title of a lightweight engineering champion. While the Gallardo LP 560-4 is indeed lean, the new model weighs 70 kilograms less. This is because of the extensive use of carbon fiber for the components on both the exterior and the interior. Overall, this offering from the Sant’Agata Bolognese automaker comes in at a total weight not exceeding 1,340 kilograms.

As a result, this super sportscar sets new standards for the already exclusive market class where Lamborghini has long been part of. When it comes to the use of composite elements, one can say that Lamborghini has many years of solid experience. In 1983 for example, the brand created for the Countach what can be said as the first ever chassis prototype made of carbon fiber. By 1985, the brand started manufacturing the series production parts.

Another example is the Lamborghini Murciélago where its bodyshell has 93 kilograms worth of carbon-fiber materials. For the Gallardo Spyder meanwhile, the engine cover is regarded in the auto industry as the largest component ever made and is equipped with RTM technology with an optimum class-A surface finish. The Lamborghini Advanced Composite Research Center is made up of two facilities and is located on an area covering at least 2,600 square meters.

It was in this research center that a team composed of technicians and engineers, totalling 30 people in all, started working in order to develop vehicle components that come in different shapes and sizes. This same center is where prototypes are built, together with production tools and associated tools.

They are also the ones who develop many of the optimized production technologies. Since much of the cutting-edge system has been made in-house, it results in high precision levels considering that the engineers are not only able to simulate any of the manufacturing processes, but can even carry out the needed crash tests on these carbon fiber structures.

Press Release

Lamborghini announces new center for carbon fiber research in Sant’Agata Bolognese

Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. announces a new Advanced Composites Research Center (ACRC) at its headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese. The center 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-fiber technology is crucial to the future
“The consistent development of carbon-fiber 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 fiber, 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 for super sports cars
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.

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

Over thirty years of experience at Lamborghini
Lamborghini has many years’ experience in composite elements. The first carbon-fiber 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 fiber, with 93 kilograms of structural carbon-fiber 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 optimized 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.

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-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.

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-fiber 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-fiber 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 are unmatched anywhere else in the world and have delivered extensive benefits to Lamborghini super sportscars’ safety and build quality.

Topics: lamborghini

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