I've just returned from the annual COMPOSITES EUROPE press trip. This year a group of European journalists visited Lamborghini in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy, to learn about this famous manufacturer of exclusive supercars' expertise in carbon fibre composites.

From the Countach to the Aventador

Lamborghini has been using carbon composite in its cars since 1983 (a prototype for the Countach) and has continued to develop its use of CFRP in successive production models, from the Diablo (launched in 1990), through the Murciélago (2001) and the Reventón (2008). (A selection of the company's cars – past and present – are on display in the museum at Sant'Agata Bolognese – see picture.)

The company is currently producing the Gallardo and Aventador models at Sant'Agata. The Aventador, the Murciélago successor launched in 2011, is of particular interest, as it features a CFRP monocoque structure. 

Lamborghini says it is the only company to manufacture a CFRP monocoque for a production vehicle in-house, and a tour of the Sant'Agata Bolognese Advanced Composites Research Centre (ACRC) and CFRP production line for the Aventador monocoque ably demonstrates the company's investment in carbon fibre technologies.

Among its achievements, Lamborghini boasts a spectrum of CFRP processes (both autoclave and out of autoclave), numerous patents, partnerships with Boeing and Callaway Golf, and a focus on repair technologies.

50 years and going strong

Lamborghini is celebrating its 50 year anniversary in 2013, and the future is looking bright for the company.

Following an unsettled period characterised by a number of changes in ownership, Lamborghini was acquired by Audi (part of the Volkswagen Group) in 1998 and has entered a stage of growth. Since 2000 the company has doubled its workforce to more than 900, tripled its number of dealers worldwide to 125, and it's selling more cars. A new model for launch in 2017 is currently in the pipeline.

Lamborghini's long history in car design and construction and its gradual adoption of composites makes for a fascinating story for which there is no space in this blog. I'll be covering these areas in a separate article soon ... (see: Lamborghini: 30 years of carbon fibre).

My thanks to Lamborghini for a great visit, and to the COMPOSITES EUROPE team for arranging it!  

Amanda Jacob is the Editor of Reinforced Plastics magazine.