A Novel Treatment for Improving Leather Recovery Performance

A cross-linkable spring-like polymer finishing agent inserted into calfskin leather for high elastic recovery performance.

Inserting Spring-like chains between the collagen fibers to support the fiber network.

The recovery property of leather after being stretched or bent will decrease over time because of intermolecular interaction, such as hydrogen bonding between collagen fibers.

The current methods to improve leather elasticity include chemical-softening which leads to shorter polymer chains and mechanical-shaking which is a merely physical interaction. All these cannot reach an outstanding or durable effect.

In this project, led by Prof. Jinlian HU at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), a novel polymer with spring-like chains is inserted between the collagen fibers by cross-linking to the active terminal groups of leather. Those chains will work as “spring” to support the fiber network so that the leather can spring back to its original shape after pressure deformation.

Special features and advantages
• The new polyurethane-based chemical has spring-like soft segment which can form effective cross- linkages with collagen molecules to improve the elasticity of leather while maintaining soft hand feel.
• The new chemical can be easily used together with existing polymers during the post-processing of calfskin leather such as retanning, colouring and softening agents.
• A water-soluble solution, the new chemical is environmentally friendly without containing any formaldehyde, heavy metal or toxic solvent.
• The calfskin leather with good elastic recovery will be particularly suitable for handbag production which requires good shape retention and soft hand feel.

• The new chemical can improve the elastic recovery property of animal skins, such as calfskin, pigskin and rabbit skin.
• The new chemical can improve the performance and added values of leather.
• The calfskin leather with good wrinkle recovery is an alternative to the leather treated by existing chemicals which is applicable to the production of shoes and jackets.

• Silver Medal – 45th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva, Switzerland (Mar 2017)

Further information
Principal Investigator
Prof. Jinlian HU
Institute of Textiles and Clothing
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Contact Details
Institute for Entrepreneurship
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Tel: (852) 3400 2929 Fax: (852) 2333 2410 Email: [email protected]

Published: 23 May 2017

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