Carbon fiber fabric debuts on newest Lamborghini

Lamborghini's Aventador J roadster, introduced at the Geneva Motor Show, make extensive use of carbon fiber composites, including a new material call CarbonSkin — a carbon fiber composite fabric used to upholster the vehicle's seats.

When Automobili Lamborghini SpA (Sant’ Agata Bolognese, Italy) premiered its new Aventador J roadster at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, the automaker had a few surprises in store for its audience.  

Loosely based on the Aventador LP 700-4 coupé, Lamborghini describes the new 12-cylinder, 6.5-liter, 700-hp two-seater as “radically open,” since roof, pillars, and front windshield have all been eliminated and only two small wind deflectors provide some protection for occupants’ faces, much like windscreens on superbikes.

Like the LP 700-4, the new J model is a technology showcase for innovative uses of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP), many of which the automaker has pioneered over the last 30 years. CFRP parts are visibly evident throughout vehicle interior and exterior – most of them clear-coated with visible carbon weave.

The Aventador roadster also makes use of carbon fiber composites on its unique seats, each of which is a two-piece bonded shell structure featuring Forged Composite, a material co-developed via strategic partnership between the R&D groups at Lamborghini and Callaway Golf Co. (Carlsbad, Calif., USA) and first shown on the monocoque and suspension arms of Lamborghini’s Sesto Elemento demonstrator vehicle at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. Forged Composite is said to be the lightest, strongest and most precise material that either company has ever used. It makes use of more than 500,000 intertwined, randomly oriented turbostratic fibers per square inch and can produce precision parts capable of withstanding extremely high forces.

Further, a new carbon composite material is used for the first time as upholstery/trim on the seats (co-bonded and sewn to the front of each Forged Composite seat shell after molding) as well as on other cockpit surfaces (e.g. door-panel inners, instrument-panel topper pad, and center console). Called CarbonSkin, this innovative flexible carbon fabric was developed and patented by Lamborghini and is produced for the automaker by a partner company. Reportedly the material is made of woven carbon fibers (in a 2x2 twill pattern) that has been soaked in a special resin (described as being an entirely new impregnation system not previously used in the market) that stabilizes the fiber structure yet remains strong, soft, and flexible once cured. While not “breathable” in its current format, the resulting matte fabric is said to have excellent drape and “hand” and to be easily shaped to conform to a wide variety of contours.

Asked about the future of this new material, Luciano De Oto, chief of the Lamborghini Advanced Composite Research Center (ACRC) says “You can imagine all the uses in applications that require flexible, light, and strong materials,” noting that beyond trim upholstery, other possible uses include high-end clothing and luggage. De Oto also says the new CarbonSkin fabrics have passed Lamborghini’s wear and aging tests and actually contribute to absorbing deformations made by a seat occupant’s back and head. “For sure this material is a step forward in the standard conception of automotive interiors,” he adds.

The biggest surprise of all is that Lamborghini has made only one Aventador J – there are no prototypes and no set-aside versions for the Lamborghini Museum. The automaker does say that “the Aventador success story has only just begun,” so presumably the unique features of this supercar will return again on new models yet to come.