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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

October 1, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Vrooom! Lamborghini backing UW composites lab (NEW: video)

The University of Washington is saying grazie mille to Italian supercar maker Lamborghini, which donated $1 million to support the school’s research into composite materials used to build airplanes and high-performance cars.

On Tuesday, the school will officially open the Automobili Lamborghini Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory, which is now being repainted in Lamborghini colors.

An invitation to the event said Lamborghini made the contribution “to aid in furthering carbon fiber technologies for increased safety and weight reduction of future products. This is in line with Lamborghini’s goal to improve the power-to-weight ratio of its vehicles by reducing the weight of its materials. Carbon fiber is the best material for nearly all applications which are essential to creating Lamborghini’s super sports cars and achieving these goals, as it is lighter, stiffer and more versatile.”

SV_Carbon Fiber Front Spoiler.jpg

It also helps that the UW employs Paolo Feraboli, an assistant professor in aerospace structures and materials. He’s a leading researcher on the safety and crashworthiness of composite materials who worked at Lamborghini in 2002.

The latest example of this application is the new limited edition Murcielago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce (left), which uses carbon composites in its floor, transmission tunnel and much of the outer skin. It also has a 100 percent carbon-fiber spoiler in front, rear finishes in carbon and an optional “Aeropack” carbon wing.

UPDATE: National Geographic happens to be airing a tour of the factory at 8 p.m. tonight, showing how the $450,000 LP 670-4 is built by hand in Bologna:

SV_Carbon Fiber Opt. Aeropack Wing.jpg

Stephan Winkelmann, Lamborghini’s president and chief executive, is flying in from Italy for Tuesday’s ceremony. Also on hand will be UW officials and Scott Carson, the Boeing executive who until recently headed its commercial airplane group building carbon fiber jetliners. Maybe they can trade tips on fastening composite components.

But the suits probably won’t get as much attention as the collection of Lamborghinis that will be on display outside of Guggenheim Hall. An LP 670-4 SV will be on display, along with a Gallardo LP 560-4 Coupe and Spyder and the new Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni (rear wheel drive, limited edition Gallardo).

SV_1.jpg

More closeups showing the carbon-fiber engine bay and other composite bits of the Murcielago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce:

SV_Carbon Fiber Engine Bay.jpg

SV_Interior.jpg

SV_Carbon Fiber bonnet.jpg

Comments | More in | Topics: Boeing, boeing, Education

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