Genuine leather has been used by mankind since ancient times. Despite the appearance of a large number of synthetic materials in the modern world, it is a natural one that remains at the top of popularity. Today, there are many types of skins, and new methods of processing allow products to be more wear-resistant and attractive. Let’s take a closer look at the main types and features of natural materials.
Features and benefits
Like any other material, genuine leather has its characteristics.
The general properties of the skin according to Leffler are the following:
- it is characterized by softness;
- it has a strong and damage-resistant structure;
- they have high elasticity, and shoes made of them can take the shape of a foot;
- due to the presence of pores on the surface of the material, good air circulation is ensured;
- it is characterized by the ability to absorb moisture
Advantages of genuine items:
- provides comfort and protects against sweating due to its porous structure;
- a product made of it will last for several years with proper care;
- preventing the appearance of unpleasant odors and bacteria;
- due to its natural properties, genuine leather is useful for health;
- it can stretch, which allows shoes made of it to take the shape of a foot, and clothes to sit perfectly on the body.
How to distinguish genuine leather from leatherette in a store?
Artificial leather is a polymer material used instead of natural leather for the manufacture of shoes, clothing, haberdashery, and technical products. It is made by applying a polyurethane film coating to a fabric base. Modern artificial item is a complex multicomponent composite polymer material of various purposes and compositions.
If you want to buy exactly a genuine skin, here are the tips:
1. Heat transfer
Natural skin will quickly become warm as a result of touching while remaining dry. The leatherette will heat up only after a while, while the material will become slightly wet from human hands.
2. Thickness and edge of the edge
Genuine item is usually thicker than leatherette and has a rounder and rougher edge, while artificial ones have a smooth and even edge.
If you press on a product made of genuine skin, then at the moment of bending or pressing on the material, small wrinkles will appear, and when straightened, they will instantly disappear. After stretching, the natural item quickly returns to its original state.
When pulled, bent, or pressed, natural skin does not change color. Artificial leather can change shade.
Artificial leather can give off a strong chemical odor. However, you should not trust your sense of smell alone when choosing products, since there are special skin fragrances.
The pores of artificial items are the same in-depth and shape, while in natural skin they are located randomly.
On the cut of a genuine skin product, you can see many fibers intertwined with each other. If there are no such fibers or instead of them there is a fabric base, knitted fabric, or non-woven material, then this is a leatherette.
How is genuine leather made?
Leather has long been used by mankind for the production of shoes, clothing, accessories, pieces of furniture, and other products. The processing of skin products is a rather complex process since from the initial stage to the final consumer, the material goes through a wide range of procedures. We offer you to learn more about all the intricacies of the production of such goods.
Natural skin is made from animal skins, which are processed using physical and physicochemical processes. In total, there are about 20 procedures, which are conventionally divided into 3 stages: preparatory work, tanning, and finishing of the final result. A brief description of each of them is given below.
1. Preparatory procedures
At the initial stage of production, the skin of an animal is preserved and then converted into a semi-finished product (pelt) for further tanning. The preparatory stage is considered the most energy-consuming because natural skin goes through almost half of all possible procedures. In the process of converting the initial raw material into a semi-finished product, using solutions from chemical reagents, the material is cleared of dirt, fat layer, muscle residues, wool, epidermis, preservative salts. After completing these procedures, the raw materials are sorted for further processing.
Tanning is the main operation for the processing of natural skin. There are several ways to tan the material, each of which has its characteristics (read about them below). Raw skin fibers should become a ready-to-use product with improved physicochemical properties. As a result of tanning, the natural material becomes elastic and wear-resistant, which makes it possible to use it without fear of damage. The procedure is carried out in a special drum, where, depending on the type of tanning, vegetable, animal, or chemical reagents are added.
3. Finishing finished item
The final stage in the production of genuine skin is to finish it and give it a presentation. In the presence of certain natural defects, including bites, scars, abrasions, punctures, the natural item is sanded and then, if necessary, embossed. As soon as all problems with the surface of the material are eliminated or they were not initially detected, the dyeing process begins.
Genuine items have three natural colors, including black, brown, and beige. However, modern technologies for dyeing goods allow you to get almost any shade. For coloring, special dyes are used, as well as organic and mineral acids. Once this procedure is completed, the skin is fattened to make it soft and elastic.
The bottom line
In this article, we have analyzed the main characteristics of leather products, the process of their manufacture, and the nuances of the difference between natural products and artificial ones. We hope the tips will help you choose the right products!