Lightweight Garage #27 Forged Composites in the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

©Danico Martins, Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

The Vehicle

In this garage is the Sesto Elemento sports car from the Italian car manufacturer Lamborghini. The first presentation took place in a non-roadworthy version at the Paris Motor Show in 2010. The production model then followed in 2012 and was limited to 20 vehicles. For a unit price of USD 2.9 million, the wealthy buyers were offered a lot. The 570 hp V10 engine develops 539 Nm of torque in combination with the sequential six-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. This makes it possible to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in just 2.5 s and reach a top speed of 350 km/h.

The Technology

The special feature about this vehicle is the use of Forged Composite for the first time. This composite material has been developed by Lamborghini since 2008 and sets new standards as a lightweight material for super sports cars.

Unlike conventional carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) components, forged composite does not consist of woven continuous fibers but of short fibers. These chopped fibers, which are embedded in a resin matrix, allow a freedom of design that would be unattainable with conventional manufacturing. The transition to a manufacturing process similar to injection molding enables the production of 3D contours, wall thickness transitions, holes and other mold elements. In addition, the cycle time is significantly reduced, which allows the components to be manufactured more cost-effectively. The reason for this is the elimination of layer-by-layer buildup, which often has to be done by hand. Another advantage is the possibility of using recycled carbon fibers, which are obtained from offcuts or old, continuous fiber-reinforced components.

When using forged composites, you should keep in mind that the mechanical properties are different from what you are used to from classic CFRP laminates. The material behaves almost isotropically and does not have one or more preferred directions with particularly high strength and stiffness values.

©Bw570, Forged composite look demonstrated in engine bay cover prototype

The Lightweighting Effect

The vehicle name Sesto Elemento means fifth element and is derived from the fifth element of the periodic table: carbon. And this name is no coincidence: a large part of the vehicle is made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics. Depending on requirements, classic CFRP components or forged composites are used for structural components, front and rear spoilers, hood, rear bumper and diffuser. As the material is only one-third the density of titanium with similar strength, an incredibly low vehicle weight of just 999 kg can be achieved.

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