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The carbon-fiber of Lamborghini Sesto Elemento - 8 Jan, 2014


The name of Sesto Elemento is derived from the periodic table, where carbon is classified as the sixth element. Thus, the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento demonstrates the Automobili Lamborghini’s globally recognized and leading expertise in carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) technology. The super sports car maker in Sant’Agata Bolognese is the only vehicle manufacturer in the world to have mastered the complete CFRP process across a range of technologies, from 3D design through computer simulation, validation, production and testing, all in a state-of-the-art industrial process that produces the very highest quality standards. 


The carbon-fiber pattern on the rear engine cover of the real car. 


It was a new challenge for AUTOart to replicate the carbon-fiber pattern of Lamborghini Sesto Elemento on the body of a 1/18-scale die-cast model car.  The carbon-fiber pattern on the real car is very fine. Shrinking the pattern for a scale model was difficult, and it can only be replicated realistically by means of tampon printing (pad printing) of very fine, greyish lines. Just like the real car, the printed carbon fiber pattern on the model car is so fine that it is only obvious in close distance evaluation.  


Tampon printing applies color with a printing pad on a section usually no larger than 2.5 inches (around 6 cm) in width and height due to the limitation of the pad size. A large, flat surface such as the front bonnet requires six to eight hits of prints. The main issue is that in between the hits, the printed lines of the connecting sections must be perfectly aligned or else a separation in the pattern will appear, thus making the surface look like it is has been constructed with several pieces rather than a single piece, as is correct. To achieve a perfect finish, the process requires numerous trials and errors, and fine adjustment of the tampon machine when printing the lines so that they connect to each other perfectly.  During the actual production, a high defect rate occurred due to the tolerance in accuracy of the machine. Many printed parts required rework using paint solvent to wash the color thoroughly before reprint could be done.  In many cases, the parts had to be scrapped when rework became impossible. 



To learn more about tampon printing/pad printing, visit: click here


Or see the video: click here


The fine carbon fiber pattern on the front bonnet of the real car


During the production run of these models, the carbon-fiber printing process took many months to complete. It is a process no other model maker is willing to do. Instead, they would simply apply a ‘cubic printing process’ or ‘3-D printing’ (a very thin membrane of printed carbon-fiber pattern floating on water that will wrap the whole body in one go when the object is dipped) in order to avoid the time-consuming and labor-intensive tampon printing process.  However, such a process cannot realistically replicate the fine carbon-fiber pattern of the real car, especially in areas with sharp angles where the membrane of carbon-fiber pattern will be stretched and distorted. That makes the model look unreal, and it would be unacceptable at AUTOart.