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Leather is a natural product that has been known and valued since ancient times. Driven by the megatrend of mobility, the demands made on high-class leather for the interiors of cars, airplanes and trains have continually increased over the years – not just with regard to its properties and production efficiency, but now particularly in terms of industrial safety and environmental and consumer protection.
As a partner of the leather industry, LANXESS is one of the leading suppliers of leather chemicals, system solutions and services for all stages of the manufacturing process. By taking into account the future requirements of the automotive, railway and aerospace industries, the LANXESS Leather Business Unit is proactively supporting tanneries by developing new core technologies for high-class and ecologically soundly produced leather – and thus making a valuable contribution to green mobility.
With its Sustainable Leather Management initiative launched at the beginning of 2011, LANXESS is focusing firmly on environmentally compatible and future-oriented leather production. Current and future innovations will be combined in the X series. Innovative premium products and processes, such as X-Lite®, X-Tan® and X-Shield®, are specifically tailored to sustainable leather production and make first-class performance possible, while at the same time helping to protect the environment along the entire value-added chain.
The new X-Lite® technology, for example, helps to reduce the weight of leather seats, and with that energy consumption. X-Lite® is based on expandable microcapsules that are inserted into the fiber structure by an innovative process during a second tannage stage. After thermal expansion, this technology produces a leather that looks and feels like a full, 1.3-mm-thick upholstery leather, but is 20 percent lighter, which results in improved fuel efficiency and load capacity as well as lower CO2 emissions from cars, planes and trains.
If metal-free leather characteristics are required, LANXESS has launched X-Tan® as a new kind of robust organic tanning process for high-quality wet white leather with outstanding environmental properties. One of the key features is the high degree of whiteness of the leather. Thus, brilliant and uniform colors can be achieved for the first time. At the same time, the resulting leathers have very good physical properties: X-Tan® offers effective protection against shrinkage at high temperatures and particularly good tear resistance. In addition, this completely new technology makes an important contribution to conserving the valuable natural resource of water and significantly reduces the environmental contamination caused by the wet white process.
Since light colors are increasingly popular for automotive interiors, leather manufacturers face another challenge: Light colors are much more sensitive to soiling and make routine cleaning necessary to prevent unwanted patina on the leather. Consequently, there is a demand for solutions that either prevent the leather from becoming easily soiled or make it simple to clean. The new Aquaderm X-Shield® system does both. Based on a VOC-free aqueous polymer dispersion, it provides long-lasting protection against mechanical abrasion and even against most stubborn stains, such as denim dyes, mustard, coffee, ketchup and engine oil. Aquaderm X-Shield® also makes the leather much easier to clean with care products, ensuring excellent durability.