News 2016

From carbon fibre to Forged Composite,
GSI means innovation

By Marco Cassotti- GSI Customer Quality & Auditor

In the past there was braided carbon fiber, created and licensed by the English
department of defence. This material was produced at Bristol Composites,
near Gloucester, for the first time, where GSI Industrial Painting Ltd. was
opened some years later. As our English colleague Richard Spackman would say:
“This cannot be just a coincidence”!

The use of carbon fiber is increasing in several fields, such as the aerospace
and sport industry, as well as in various commercial and industrial applications.
In many cases, carbon fibre composites have replaced metal parts,
even though they are more expensive by a direct comparison.
Where applied successfully, carbon fibre composites have decreased total system
costs by reducing maintenance costs, speeding up production processes
and improving reliability. A lot of new implementations, not possible
in the past with metals or other materials, are possible today.

Forged Composite

In this varied scenario, as if it were the black monolith of 2001: A Space Odyssey,
GSI and Lamborghini are launching in the market the first automotive components
consisting of Forged Composite, marking the transformation to a new carbon fiber era.

Undoubtedly it represents an exciting but adequate starting point, considering
that the transformation from traditional braided carbon fiber to Forged Composite,
i.e. carbon fiber positioned randomly, represents a crucial change.

First of all, traditional carbon fiber, used for any object by now, is not as fascinating
as it was ten years ago. On the contrary, Forged Composite is a new material,
from an aesthetic point of view. Secondly, the process needed to manufacture
Forged Composite components can take advantage from the technology already
used for traditional SMC, allowing to produce parts more rapidly compared
to the autoclave process.

Developed in 2010, Forged Composite was limited to structural applications before
being extended to internal applications, thanks to its innovative aspect.  

Forged Composite is a material developed through a technology called C-SMC
(Carbon Sheet Moulded Compound), thanks to which it was possible to patent
a process that enabled production of larger A-class body components.

Lamborghini's strive for innovation has led to abandonment of the traditional
braided carbon fiber, widely used in automotive components.

Lamborghini is one of the few companies which took advantage of the innovative
aspect of Forged Composite. As for the production process, GSI has been the first
company to develop it and create the basis of the process used now by other
companies as well.

At JEC Composite exhibition in Paris, Automobili Lamborghini received the
"Innovation Award" this year, that is the only award within the "Automotive Interior"
category for a new package developed for Lamborghini Huracàn.

The award was granted for the "Combination of C-SMC and the patented application
for Automotive A-class Components". The Carbon Package features many components
of car interiors made in forged composite, such as handles, air intakes,
central tunnel cladding and some other details of the cockpit.

Forged Composite

From a production point of view, the advantages offered by Forged Composite
are numerous and clear: it is no longer necessary to model the shape of a component
before moulding, it is sufficient to check that the form to be introduced in the press
can cover the whole surface needed. In this way the process can be carried out
by a skilled operator and not by an artisan like in the past, with a consequent significant
reduction of production costs. Moreover, the "cooking" time of the pieces compared
with the autoclave used previously by artisans, reduced from more than
an hour to a few minutes.

Considering also the industrial production logic, the process enables the creation
of a raw work-piece in less than a quarter of the time necessary in the handicraft
production with autoclave, with a better final structural result, thanks to press
high pressure for SMC.
Then pieces have to be milled and painted in order to obtain their final aspect.
Even though GSI is not yet equipped for the painting process, it has gained
a significant experience in moulding and milling Forged Composite pieces.

As for the Engine Bay, which is a package of four components produced by GSI
for Lamborghini currently, the milling process is performed in a specific area that
can have two workstations, with customized fitting for each of the four parts.
Even though highly automated, this phase requires the active cooperation
of the staff: during the positioning of the piece but above all in the subsequent
quality control phase, both when the piece is positioned in the fitting and during
the following visual check. A team specialised in checking components uses specific
callipers and its experience to identify each single aesthetic defect that may arise
during the production process. Only perfect components can be delivered
to customers.

Coefficente di assorbimento acustico - lato vettura

GSI ability in producing details is enriched with a specific painting procedure,
covering the component with a completely transparent and opaque film,
which makes them more beautiful and aggressive.

The Forged Composite Engine Bay package is offered by Lamborghini together
with an engine glass bonnet in order to focus on its V10 engine in the back part
of the car, framed by Forged elements produced by GSI in a sport appearance.

Nowadays Lamborghini only uses Forged Composite components in its Hùracan
and Aventador as well as in One-Off models; however it's possible that they will be
employed in other models in future in order to highlight their sport features.
In that case, GSI will be ready to meet the challenge, thanks to its enthusiasm
and experience gained from using the Forged Composite over the last few years.
Whenever we are called, we will be ready!

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