The intention of this publication is to provide insight into a very complex and changing industry. Each tannery develops techniques according to its customers’ requirements, raw material availability, plant limitations and, increasingly, environmental restraints. In practical manufacture the “text book rules” are often modified both through necessity and technical ingenuity, and this applies to all types of leathers.
The appearance of finished leathers – colour and texture – is driven by fashion, hence the finishing operations are subject to rapid change to meet market demands. However, many changes also take place in the earlier stages of leather manufacture, via the use of chemicals, production techniques and through improved machinery. In addition to customer needs, major changes are now driven by specification, legislation and environmental demands, and processes, therefore, will continue to evolve.
In this publication, leather making technology is set out as the main subject matter. There are, however, many associated issues that merit discussion, so these are presented in a series of panels.Where a topic is raised in the main text that is discussed in greater detail in some other part of the feature, a reference is given in the text.
Finally, it must be borne in mind that the technology applied in leather manufacture must build on the characteristics of the raw materials available and meet the consumer end use. This publication therefore provides an overview of the basics of leather making, designed both as an introduction to the industry as well as a refresher.