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Materials & Assembly

Lamborghini Uses Carbon-Fiber Seats in Latest Roadster

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Beth Stackpole
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Luxury items love those composites
Beth Stackpole   6/1/2012 7:33:59 AM
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Interesting post, Ann. Funny (but not totally unexpected) that Calloway Golf and Lamborghini are teaming up on composite development. Two very different applications, but similarity in the need for lightweight, flexible materials. And want to bet they may have overlap in customer base?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Luxury items love those composites
Ann R. Thryft   6/1/2012 11:48:07 AM
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Beth, I'd make the same bet about customer base overlap for those two companies, although it's also true that carbon fiber had an early presence in sports equipment such as golf clubs. This isn't the first time these two have worked together, as DN has covered in the past: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=212241 That overlap may explain, in part, how they can afford a composite research center, as naperlou asked. It seems that many non-US sports car companies are run by, or were at least begun by, members of the upper classes, at least in England and Italy, as expensive hobbies.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Re: Luxury items love those composites
OLD_CURMUDGEON   6/4/2012 9:36:29 AM
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Ann,

re: "It seems that many non-US sports car companies are run by, or were at least begun by, members of the upper classes, at least in England and Italy, as expensive hobbies."

I MAY BE way off base, but do I detect a note of either sarcasm, elitist envy, or jealosy in that statement?  IF any of the above are true, I would ask you the trite question, ' when was the last time you got a job from a poor person?'

Every day of my working career I thanked GOD that the owner of the company that I worked for HAD his yachts, his fancy autos, his vacation houses, etc.  IF it were for their fortitude, persistence, & plain old "guts", I would not have had the successful career that I had.


 

JerrySteiger
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Iron
Re: Luxury items love those composites
JerrySteiger   6/4/2012 11:11:14 AM
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The original Mr. Lamborghini who started the car company made his fortune manufacturing tractors. From the wikipedia article, it doesn't sound like his family was wealthy, but he wasn't working his way up from the slums; they grew grapes, a suitably aristocratic occupation.

naperlou
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Research Center
naperlou   6/1/2012 9:28:33 AM
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It is interesting that a car company, with volumes this low, should have a composites research center.  Of course, it is important to what they are trying to do as a company, but that is not a trivial thing.  When I was in the aerospace industry we had a composite laba and made our own composites from raw materials.  I assume that this technology will eventually get out into the more general marketplace as time goes on and Lambo proves that its technology works in the rigors of a high performance auto.

NadineJ
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Re: Research Center
NadineJ   6/1/2012 11:28:22 AM
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It makes more sense for Lamborghini to have a composites research center that would lead to such a dynamic fabric than, say, Toyota.  Smaller, high-end companies act as the catalyst.  And, large,mass market companies translate what's needed for their market.

The matte look is very intersting.  I'd love to touch a swatch and see if they incorparate this into their apparel line someshow.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Research Center
Ann R. Thryft   6/1/2012 11:51:17 AM
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nadine, interesting that you mentioned clothing as an app for the carbonskin fabric. So did the press materials.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Research Center
Beth Stackpole   6/1/2012 12:54:13 PM
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What would the appeal be of such a carbon fiber material for clothing? Would it be form or feel? Not sure I'm getting my arms around those design sensibilities.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Research Center
Ann R. Thryft   6/4/2012 11:45:41 AM
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Beth, the description of the material is a lightweight leather replacement with a feel and drape similar to leather. Personally, I'm not fond of synthetic clothing material, but many people are. And fashion is, well, fashion.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Research Center
Ann R. Thryft   6/1/2012 11:48:53 AM
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naperlou, I think it's important to remember that high volumes do not drive all progress/R&D, especially outside of electronics. Back in the day, when so many technologies were developed for high-ticket, long lifecycle products in industries such as mil/ and early comms and even electronics at one time, being a vertically integrated company that made a lot of your own materials and/or components was not unusual. IBM was a prime example.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Re: Research Center
OLD_CURMUDGEON   6/4/2012 9:42:18 AM
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naperlou,

re: " It is interesting that a car company, with volumes this low, should have a composites research center."

I don't find that exceptional at all.  When you are selling a product that is at least one to two orders of magnitude greater than the typical product in that category, it is very understandable that there would be some "pennies" left over for some investigatory work.

Don't lose sight of the fact that a typical "oil change" for a FERRARI, LAMBORGHINI, etc. is over $1000.  That's a lot of oil changes down at your local SPEEDY-LUBE!!!!!
 


Charles Murray
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Why use composites?
Charles Murray   6/1/2012 5:43:55 PM
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Ann, I'm curious why they chose to use carbon fiber on upholstery, center console, instrument panel, and inner door panel. I understand the weight advantages of carbon fibers on the chassis and exterior, but it seems like there would be a big cost penalty. What's the advantage?

RNDDUDE
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Platinum
Re: Why use composites?
RNDDUDE   6/4/2012 10:09:13 AM
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Remember that although Lambo is a relatvely 'small' company, they are owned by Volkswagen, probably the world's biggest automaker. If this carbon upholstery concept is as durable and light weight as it would seem, I could see where eventually it could be feasable for mainstream use, where the economy of scale might make it cost effective. Reducing overall automobile weight is the single cheapest way to improve fuel economy.

Charles Murray
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Re: Why use composites?
Charles Murray   6/4/2012 4:30:39 PM
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A perfect example of cutting-edge technology trickling down to the entry-level, RNDDUDE. Makes sense.

ChasChas
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Re: Why use composites?
ChasChas   6/4/2012 11:00:07 AM
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Charles, I think the type of customer determines the use of material. Most exotic car owners pursue making a statement via cutting edge engineering - cost is secondary.

It must be nice to own something that is super fine. 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Why use composites?
Ann R. Thryft   6/4/2012 11:47:12 AM
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Chuck, the carbon fiber skin is a replacement for leather, which costs a lot more and also weighs twice as much.

Jerry dycus
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Re: Why use composites?
Jerry dycus   6/4/2012 4:53:34 PM
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                Please give me leather instead!!  Plastic coated CF fabric?  Talk about hype. 

                Leather is really cheap now as so many cows getting eaten there is a huge surplus of leather.  And can be had in light weights too like fine glove leather.

 

RICKZ28
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Re: Why use composites?
RICKZ28   6/14/2012 4:41:02 PM
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I think it may be a trend (or maybe fad) for exotic sports cars to one-up each other in the use of Carbon-Fiber.  I've seen some new standard passenger cars clouting their use of synthetic leather seats which are lighter, less expensive and more durable than leather (they say)...the new Toyota Prius is one ("SofTex" material).

For my cars, I much prefer leather...and I own two cars that are equipped with leather seats.  The leather seats just feel more comfortable and luxurious to me.  I also like leather-wrapped steering wheels.  My wife also prefers leather...standard in her Acura TSX.  Our three adult kids-cars have cloth seats, being regular 4-door economy cars for college and work commuting.  For our home, we prefer cloth-type seating for couches and such.

I have friends who refer cloth fabric seats, mostly those who spend long hours driving to and from work.  They like cloth because it breaths and does not get sticky against skin like leather.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Why use composites?
Ann R. Thryft   6/15/2012 11:45:04 AM
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Rick, thanks for the input about the trend in leather replacement car seat materials. Personally, I also prefer the feel of leather and other natural materials to synthetic materials, whether it's on my car seat, my couch or my clothes. Although I would not prefer to drive a Cadillac.

Thinking_J
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Hype? Leather is hyped.. at least in autos
Thinking_J   6/4/2012 8:47:17 PM
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I MUCH prefer numerous new cloth alternatives to leather in automotive environment.

There are several matte finished cloths that breath better, wear better and grip better (hate sliding around while cornering)  than any leather.

Currrently have "high end" leather seating in newer car.. I prefer the cloth used on our old mini-van. Better feel, Better wear, Better looking.

In the "old" days.. leather was more durable option. Those days are gone. But is still be hyped as "high end" material in autos.

As to tricky new carbon fiber based cloth.. Why do we assume it is more expensive to make? Nothing in the article indicated it's cost.  It may actually be cheaper than some alternative expensively treated leather. I doubt it will be cheaply sold in this car's intended market... even if it was very cheap to acquire.

If it feels good, wears better.. great. And , it just may introduce additional improvements in seemingly un-related areas... all good.

But.. if it doesn't perform better .. then, yes, it is just hype for the car.

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Hype? Leather is hyped.. at least in autos
Ann R. Thryft   6/5/2012 11:55:54 AM
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Thinking_J, the information from Lamborghini did not reveal the cost of the carbon fiber cloth, although it did say that leather costs more and weighs twice as much. Maybe that's hype, maybe not. It's hard to tell at this point, since there's only one of this model being built.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Seat Design
Jack Rupert, PE   6/9/2012 5:30:03 PM
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Maybe it's just because I don't drive a $100K car, but don't those seats look uncomfortable?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Seat Design
Ann R. Thryft   6/11/2012 11:53:03 AM
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Jack, funny you should mention that--the seats look really uncomfortable to me, too. Not because of the carbon skin surface treatment--which supposedly feels like leather--but because of the forged composite seat material. It somehow looks hard, not soft. But maybe that;'s just the photo.

Fritz371
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Silver
Lamborghini
Fritz371   6/14/2012 5:42:11 PM
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Lamborghini is pushing the envelope. They make sports cars not sporty cars. There is a basic difference. These cars are the pinnacle of go-fast machines, not cushy sunday driver stuff. If you want living room furniture in your car then drive a Cadillac. Incidently the Lambo shown costs considerably more than $100,000.

bobjengr
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Platinum
Aventador LP 700-4--Cabron Fiber Seats
bobjengr   6/15/2012 5:17:33 PM
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I wonder what the replacement costs would be?  I agree completely that leather seats would be preferable to carbon fiber but I bet replacing the carbon fiber seats would be considerably less expensive than replacing the leather seats—especially if the carbon is molded.  I would love to know if this is true.   It appears also that carbon fiber would be much easier to clean than leather.  ( Shows you how very few high-priced cars I have had with leather seats. )   At any rate—just a thought.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Aventador LP 700-4--Cabron Fiber Seats
Ann R. Thryft   6/18/2012 3:58:57 PM
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Good question, bobjengr. It's not clear from the description, but it sounded like the carbon skin seat covering material is applied to or laid on top of the separate forged composite seat structures, in a manner parallel to that of leather. If that's the case, I'd think replacement costs might be similar to leather.

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