It was 35 years ago that McLaren first decided to make a revolutionary move – introducing its first Formula 1 racer with a carbon-fiber composite tub in place of the standard bonded and riveted sheet-aluminum structure. Since then, this technological trickle-down has continued, from aircraft to race cars and supercars, and recently even to affordable road cars. For example, Toyota introduced its Prius Prime plug-in hybrid equipped with a CFC rear hatch this year at the New York auto show. Yes, a Prius!
With everyone jumping into the Carbon Fiber technology, Lamborghini’s got something new in the works. After working with airplane manufacturer Boeing, Lamborghini believes it has found a new to mass produce forced carbon fiber. Forged carbon fiber (or FC for short) was first seen on the 2,200-pound Lamborghini Sesto Elemento. This composite was created using a manufacturing process that significantly cuts the time it takes to make normal carbon fiber components, and also yields a sturdier material than a traditional carbon fiber weave.
To produce this forged carbon fiber, shredded carbon fiber threads are combined with resin and put between two steel molds. This substance is then heated and placed under 1,200-1,500 psi of pressure, and just three minutes later, the component is ready to be molded into a supercar. This process takes a significantly shorter time than the usual 24 hours it takes to bake layers and layers of carbon fiber cloth and also significantly cuts production costs. Cheaper and stronger it doesn’t get any better than that.
Lamborghini is planning to delve deeper into this production method, and has even built a new Advanced Composites Research Center in Seattle, Washington, which coincidentally also happens to be the home of Boeing. It plans to refine the production method to further increase the manufacturing speed and reduce the cost of construction. With enough luck, the material will become cheap and easy enough to produce that it will eventually be able to become mass produced. We may see even everyday passenger cars packing this forged carbon fiber soon. Here at Carsclusive, we are extremely hopeful to see forged carbon fiber to trickle down to everyday cars.