Lamborghini has provided a glimpse of its future flagship sports car – the Aventador LP700-4 – at the Geneva motor show. As the replacement for the Murciélago, the V12-powered Aventador boasts of many futuristic features and advanced technologies only fitting for a flagship unit of the super sports car manufacturer. One of these is the extensive use of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) technology, especially in the entirely carbon fiber composite monocoque.
Yes, the Aventador features a cell made entirely from carbon fiber – as a monocoque structure. This structure of the vehicle has been designed and engineered as a "single shell," taking full advantage of the extreme rigidity of CFRP. The strength of CFRP monocoques has been proven by the Formula 1 race cars, which need a rigid structure to protect the occupant from harm during high speed crashes.
A number of road-eligible sports cars also use monocoque technology as their cells systematically function like a safe roll cage. While the term "single shell" is used as a description, the new Lamborghini monocoque literally is made of a number of individual parts, each having its own function. For instance, the monocoque features stiffening elements made from Braiding technology, which is regarded as one of the best technologies in managing energy adsorption during a crash.
Following a curing process, the monocoque structure -- including the tub and the complete roof -- will function as a single component. This type of structure has proven to have certain advantages over other structural applications. One of these is that a full monocoque offers a lightweight solution for any car, especially if it is made of carbon fiber. In fact, the Lamborghini’s full monocoque weighs only 147.5 kilograms (324.5 lbs).
A full carbon fiber monocoque also provides superior passive safety thanks to its extreme rigidity. Furthermore, a full carbon fiber monocoque features very high torsional rigidity. The monocoque is linked at the front and rear with aluminum sub-frames, on which the suspension, engine and transmission are mounted. This safety in the Aventador LP700-4 will not be compromised with its monocoque structure.
On the other hand, the entire body-in-white of the Aventador weighs only 229.5 kilograms (505 lbs) and has torsional rigidity of 35,000 Newton meters per degree of twist. The high torsional rigidity of the Aventador provides a feeling of solidity and paves way for very exact wheel control with outstanding steering precision and sensitive feedback – thereby allowing the new flagship to respond to even the smallest steering input.
Contingent on the form, function and requirements of the individual elements, Lamborghini’s development team chose three main CFRP manufacturing methods from its technology coffer. Each of the methods has its production processes, and they differ from one another in terms of the type of carbon fiber and its weave and in the chemical composition of the synthetic resin used. One of the methods being used by the development team is the Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) method.
This method entails preforming and impregnating carbon fiber mats with an exact amount of resin. Then the mats are cured under heat while the part is in the mold. Lamborghini further developed this method and even patented its so-called "RTM-Lambo" process, in which the final mold is made from lightweight carbon-fiber parts, instead of heavy metal components. The RTM-Lambo paves way for a more efficient, faster and more flexible manufacturing process.