Lamborghini composite development has been leading the advancement of carbon fiber for the automotive industry for the over 35 years
Lamborghini is one of the top supercar manufacturers in the world. Only the most serious car fans know that Lamborghini started as a tractor manufacturer. Fewer still know that Lamborghini composite development has a long and storied history in the creation and manufacturer of carbon fiber materials that goes back over 35 years.
Here are 12 significant dates that you most likely didn’t know about Lamborghini’s background in composite materials.
Lamborghini composite developments starting in 1983
In a history that goes back over 35 years, starting in 1983 – Lamborghini pioneers the application and development of carbon fiber for the first time. This expertise came by way of Seattle when team members who assisted in developing the first carbon fiber and Kevlar components for the Boeing 767 were recruited. The result was creating the new ‘Esperienza Materiali Compositi’ Department (also known as E.Co) that produced their first carbon fiber chassis prototype, the Countach Evoluzione. The Evoluzione was also the company’s first foray into composite materials and the first of its kind in a road car project.
Horacio Pagani, founder of Pagani Automobili S.p.A worked at Lamborghini during this time and had a significant hand in developing the Countach Evoluzione. A few years later, they parted ways over disagreement on proceeding with the composites development program.
Developments in 2007
Lamborghini shares its RTM out-of-autoclave technology with the University of Washington (UW) to further develop the technology that will eventually serve as the foundation for the future Aventador monocoque.
Also, in 2007, Lamborghini’s Research and Development Center established a branch known as the “Composites Development Center” to focus on innovative materials research and the development of new concepts and technologies for carbon fiber applications.
Development in 2008
Lamborghini and Boeing sign their first collaborative agreement to investigate the crash behavior of composite materials using an Aventador monocoque. Automobili Lamborghini adapts composite material technology, techniques, and simulation methods from the aeronautics and aerospace industries before anyone else in the automobile industry.
Developments in 2010
Lamborghini develops Forged Composites® technology, protected under a special patent that led to the idea for the Sesto Elemento supercar in just a few days.
Also, in 2010, Lamborghini added manufacturing facilities dedicated to the fabrication of composite components at its factory.
Developments in 2011
The Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 premiers with a unique carbon fiber monocoque designed and manufactured entirely in Sant’Agata Bolognese. The body shell of the Aventador is made of carbon fiber, creating a chassis that weighs just over 500 pounds. Construction of the composite monocoque is entirely in-house because suppliers suitable suppliers cannot be found.
Many of the pieces making up the Aventador’s monocoques were built using the technology shared with Boeing in 1983. However, Lamborghini’s “RTM-Lambo” technology eliminates the need for manual lamination allowing for the use of carbon fiber molds resulting in lower production times, catapulting the company to the forefront of manufacturing technology.
Also in 2011, Lamborghini started a new venture with Boeing to create processes to repair damaged carbon fiber.
Developments in 2014
Automobili Lamborghini receives accreditation from the TÜV for its carbon fiber repair process, making it the first automotive company globally to do so. Accreditation certified and validated the quality of the repair process. The service is provided by “Flying Doctors,” who are specialized experts. These individuals have completed initial training at the Boeing Company’s Repair Department, followed by additional training where they received certification recognized by the US Federal Aviation Administration. This Lamborghini repair service aims to ensure that damaged composite is repaired to the same quality as the original part.
Developments in 2015
Automobili Lamborghini expands its flexible materials efforts. After years of research and development, it created a new carbon fiber material with a flexible matrix used in automobile interiors. The Automobili Lamborghini, Research and Development team created Carbonskin to market and find applications for the new material. It has the naturalness of carbon fiber, a three-dimensional impression. In addition, it is soft to the touch when compared to other materials and is 28 percent lighter than Alcantara and 65 percent lighter than leather.
Developments in 2016
The Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL), a new carbon fiber research facility, is launched near Seattle, Washington. The ACSL studies recent carbon fiber advancements independently of the company’s headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese.
Developments in 2017
Lamborghini collaborates with the Houston Methodist Research Institute on a research project looking at the use of composite materials in medicine. By doing so, Lamborghini applied its expertise in studying carbon fiber composite materials to the medical field. Initial research is the study of in-vitro biocompatibility of composite materials that could be employed to create prosthetic implants and subcutaneous devices. In addition, the project aims to find new, lighter materials that are radio-transparent, better tolerated by the human body, and last longer than the ones already in use in medicine.
Developments in 2019
Lamborghini applies its knowledge of composites to space experimentation, being the first automaker to conduct carbon fiber research aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The two-year-old cooperative research project between Automobili Lamborghini and the Houston Methodist Research has reached a significant milestone. On November 2, 2019, the Northrop Grumman Antares launcher lifted off from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, delivering a set of composite material samples to the International Space Station. The purpose of the experiment is to study the response of composite materials exposed to the rigors of space.
Developments in 2021
Lamborghini launched the first car globally with an integrated carbon fiber roll cage that meets FIA Hypercar safety regulations. The Lamborghini Essenza SCV12 incorporates thirty years of experience in studying and applying composite materials in the automotive business.
The carbon fiber monocoque built by Lamborghini must withstand forces of 12 tons without substantial deformation to receive FIA approval. Furthermore, the reinforced carbon fiber must be able to pass over 20 static tests on such things as the pedals, belts, and fuel tank, in addition to the chassis. In addition, the monocoque must be able to withstand crash tests at speeds of 14 meters per second without injuring the driver or puncturing the gas tank.
There is also the matter of sustainability. Lamborghini has pioneered the development of production methods that reduce the use of energy and water in production. Additionally, all waste produced during production is recycled to create “recycled carbon fiber” items. These items are not required to adhere to stringent structural and cosmetic requirements, such as vehicle floor panels and promotional gifts.
Lamborghini is known primarily for their hypercars, and to a minor degree, their tractors. The truth is that they are a diversified manufacturer with a strong history and footprint in the development of composite materials for use in the automotive industry. Lamborghini composite development has been leading carbon fiber development for the automotive industry for over 35 years and looks poised to lead the charge going forward.