Friday, February 11, 2011

Lamborghini Shows Off Murcielago Replacement’s High-tech Carbon Fiber Composite Monocoque

Over the past few months, Lamborghini has released several teasers displaying components of the Murcielago's replacement, rumored to be called either Aventador or Jota and set for a world premiere at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

The Italians first showed us the all-new 700HP 6.5-liter V12 engine, followed by a preview of the Formula 1-inspired pushrod suspension. Now, new information is available on the supercar’s monocoque, built entirely from carbon fiber using carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) technology.

Although touted as a “single shell” design, the monocoque that also has its roots in F1 racing is actually made from various individual parts, which, once joined, physically function as one component.

Known for its extreme durability, carbon fiber is also lighter compared to conventional materials, which makes it an excellent choice for building performance car components. In the case of the Murcielago successor, the monocoque only weighs 147.5 kg or 324 lbs and has excellent torsional rigidity, according to Lamborghini.

To build the different elements needed, engineers used three CFRP manufacturing methods that not only differ as processes, but use different types of carbon fiber as well. The monocoque also contains epoxy foam pieces to further increase stiffness and aluminum inserts, which facilitate the connection of the front and rear sub-frame elements.

It’s evident that the building process is not what one would call simple, therefore Lamborghini chose to do everything in-house, thus making sure that every piece is made according to specifications.

By Csaba Daradics

[From Lamborghini Press Release] CFRP manufacturing methods

Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM): In this process the carbon fiber mats are preformed and impregnated with an exact amount of resin. Afterwards, they are cured under heat while the part is in the mold. Lamborghini has achieved a major breakthrough by further developmening this method. Using the patented “RTM-Lambo” process, the final mold is no longer a heavy, complex metal piece, but is made instead from lightweight carbon-fiber parts, thus making the manufacturing process faster, more flexible and more efficient.

An additional benefit of the RTM-Lambo process is the low injection pressure that doesn’t require expensive equipment.

Prepreg – The carbon fiber mats used in this method, commonly known as prepreg, are pre-injected by the supplier with a thermosetting liquid resin and must be stored at a low temperature. The mats are then laminated in molds and cured under heat and pressure in an autoclave. Prepreg components are complex to make, but have an extremely high-quality surface finish (Class-A surface quality) and are therefore the preferred option for use in visible locations.

Braiding – These components are manufactured by using RTM technology. This carbon fiber weave technology is derived from the textile industry and used to make tubular components for special applications such as structural roof pillars and rocker panels. The woven components are made by diagonally interweaving the fiber in several layers.

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