The Production of Leather

 

(The information and graphics on this page have been kindly provided by German leather company Freudenberg.)

Love of Tradition and technical perfection - this is how a handicraft becomes a masterpiece
Traditionally the calves whose skin is used for the famous Freudenberg calf leather come from the European Alps. Delicate calf leather can only be produced from top-quality rawhide. The production of leather is a world of its own. A fascinating world full of secrets and with immeasurable experience and the handcraft tradition. And all the technical perfection from the computer-controlled production to the recycling of water in its own purification plant to the recycling of tannic acid cannot replace the unerring eye and the sensitive touch of Freudenberg's master-craftsmen.

The most important stages of the leather production:

1. Warehousing and sorting
In the raw material area the skins are preserved in salt, stored in controlled cool rooms and before processing, presorted for quality and weight.
   
2. Soaking
The skin is soaked to remove dirt and salt.
   
3. De-Fleshing
During this process tissue, flesh and fat remnants are removed by a roller mounted knife
   4. Liming
By adding lime and sulphur compound the hair is removed from the skin.

 

5. Bating, pickling, tanning
During bating and pickling the skins are treated with acid and salt in preparation for tanning. During tanning the skin fibres absorb the tanning agents. That's when the skin becomes leather.
   
6. Samming
During this process water is removed.
   
7. Splitting
In order to achieve an even specified thickness the leather is reduced in substance. The resulting split-leather can than be processed further as suede.
   
8. Skiving
The grain leather is brought to an even thickness. Irregularities are removed from the reverse side and the leather is separated into colour-batches.
   
9. Sorting
The leather is sorted into various quality grades.
   
10. Neutralising, filling out, dyeing and greasing
The acid resulting from the tanning process is neutralized. Dyeing than takes place, where appropriate with anilin-dye-stuffs. The greasing procedure will finally achieve the correct softness.
   
11. Drying
Two methods are used to dry leather. The vacuum process during which moisture is removed by suction and the hanging process, when leather is hung and taken through ovens.
   
12. Staking
Following drying the leather is mechanically staked in order to soften it. Further processes take place in preparation for finishing.
   


13. Finishing
Here the leather is given its final surface treatment and look. Through processes of base coat, colouring, embossing, ironing the leather becomes, depending on the demands of fashion, matt or shiny, two-tone or uni-coloured, smooth or grained. The art of finishing lies in working in wafer-thin layers without disturbing the natural look of the leather and its characteristics such as suppleness and breathability.
   
14. Quality Control
In between every process quality is controlled. Final control checks to ensure each individual production is to specification and sortation into various trades.
   
  15. Despatch
The leather is measured electronically, wrapped and despatched.