Many of us own and use a number of products which are made of Leather like shoes, jackets, and bags etc. But how many of us know that how is leather actually made? Leather is being used for thousands of years for a variety of purposes. Shoe making from leather is the most known form of its use. Leather shoes are also famous for their durability, comfort and longevity.
First of all let’s know what this Leather is after all and how is it made. Leather is a material created through the tanning of skins and hides of animals, mostly from cattle hide. The tanning process converts the odors and putrescible skin into a durable, long-lasting and multipurpose natural material for a variety of uses.
Leather making is a complex process which consists of many steps to convert the animal hides into finished product. Leather making is also known as “tanning”. Tanning is basically the most unique part of this entire process, which uses the tannic acids present in plant (tanner-plant) matter to chemically alter the leather so that it will not putrefy or decay.
Animal skins have tendency to quickly break down and begin to stink if we use these without any process. That’s why the hides need to be treated to form leather. Leather making process is actually consisting of two indispensable stages: wet blue processing and the second one is finishing or drying. As these are not easy processes therefore have to be performed in large commercial facilities, although Derma Prime Plus leather could be made at home but the process is so complex and stinking.
Skin has three layers: Epidermis, down it is Derma, and lower most is Adipose, also known as flesh. Derma is made of Collagen Fiber and is the strongest layer of all. So when the leather is made, only this strong and flexible derma layer is required. The collagen is emanated by cells, and forms a network of useful filaments. When leather is processed, these fibers are retained while everything else is stripped away.
Part 1: During the process, first of all the skin is fleshed and the flesh is cleaned off of the hide, the excessive animal fat is also removed.
Then the hides are washed and drenched, which restores moisture to dried hides while loosening blood and dirt. Then chemicals are added to turn the water alkaline, which will eat away at the hair and epidermis. During this collagen fibers begin to swell, while excess proteins precipitate out. When this process is complete, the water is brought to a stable pH state and the swelling of collagen goes down, so that enzymatic cleaners could be added to remove any remaining organic wreckage. Then the hide is marinated in a highly acidic solution, which prepares it for tanning. Tanning agents form bonds with the collagen in the hide, causing it to resist bacterial attack, and the hides are removed from this wet blue processing tank for finishing, after being run through rollers to remove excess water.
Part 2: In the next stage hides are split to the desired thickness. Leather is made in different thicknesses depending on the required use of it. Leather has many uses of it so some time we needs it in soft form some products required firm and others may need dyed one, so after splitting in required thickness leather is again tanned but this time with different materials which make it soft, firm or dyed as per requirement.
To maintain softness and flexibility of leather it is oiled after dyeing. In the finishing stage leather is dried, mechanically treated to soften it, and buffed so that it will have a smooth and attractive surface. Final stage of leather making is application of wax or polymer which protects the surface of the leather for long time.