Building a better carbon fiber

When it comes to the creation of the fastest, most expensive cars on the planet, carbon fiber is the material of choice. Also used extensively in a variety of aerospace applications, including satellites and rockets, the world of composite brings exactly the sort of characteristics needed if you plan on building something that moves. Not only does it offer a high degree of tensile strength and stiffness, but it’s also incredibly lightweight, making it perfect for something like a supercar. Lamborghini’s been using it for years, but in the race for supercar bragging rights, the Italian automaker has come up with a new spin on carbon. It’s called forged composites, and it’s highlighted in this brief 40-second video.

Originally developed as a collaborative project between Lamborghini and Callaway Golf Company, Lambo’s first application of forged composites was in the Sesto Elemento, an AWD V-10 rocket ship weighing in at less than 1,000 kg (2,202 pounds to be exact). With so little mass and 570 horsepower to motivate it, the Sesto Elemento can hit 62 mph in just 2.5 seconds.

More recently, the technology was utilized on the Huracan Performante, making it the first production model to use forged composites.

The video itself is short on details, but does give the viewer a look at forged composites in a kaleidoscope of light and shadow, all set to an epic soundtrack worthy of some of the fastest cars on the planet.

If you’re in the mood to get a little nerdy, read on for the technical bits on what forged composites are all about.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Nerdy Details

Lamborghini Makes Material Technology Beautiful: Video
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Lamborghini Makes Material Technology Beautiful: Video
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Forged composites are created in a manner that’s similar to normal carbon fiber, but with a few very specific differences. Rather than a traditional carbon fiber weave, forged composites utilize what essentially amounts to carbon fiber shavings, which are pressed together between a transfer film and resin layer to form a sheet of “pre-preg” material infused with a vinyl ester or epoxy to cure it.

The flexible pre-preg material is then cut to shape and molded into a press, where heat (135 degrees Celsius, or 275 degrees Farenheit) and pressure (80 bar, or 1,160 psi) are applied, transforming it into a hard part ready for use.

The whole curing process takes less than five minutes to finish. Benefits of forged composites include a versatility in the shapes it can form, with ribbing reinforcements for added strength where needed. Thickness can also be varied, and it offers a lower level of electrical resistance than regular pre-preg carbon fiber. Finally, the material is good for high-production applications where a high degree of automation and a lower cost to produce are required.

Read our full review on the Lamborghini Huracan Performante here.

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