Wise word at Leathersellers prize giving

student-prizegiving-leathersellersLast Friday was the annual prize-giving at Leathersellers. The numbers were a little smaller than usual because a last minute date change left some students stranded working in Holland. The Vice Chancellor, too, was missing on holiday.

The B.Sc. students were Naveed Aamir, Furhan Masood, and Waseem Salem and the Leathersellers certificate students were Angkana Laoveerakul, Chalida Chaiyoslap, Nabeel Javed and James Muirhead. Mark Colyer from the magazine Leather International was present to give the Leather International Award to Thomas Kilee from Kenya. Congratulations to them all.

The guest speaker was different this year. Dr Tilman Taeger will be well known to many who read this column. He is head of basic innovation and technology management for leather in BASF‘s performance chemicals unit although this will change as he coming up to retirement. His talk covered three major areas

the need to treat each hide or skin as an individual and avoid making plastic, which was the fault with leather 25-30 years ago when we enjoyed making corrected grain leathers and box calf which was so heavily coated the consumer thought they might as well buy plastic

the importance of replacing inorganic chemicals in processing with biochemical materials

the importance of making a piece of leather that is good enough to last a long time and people will want to keep. At the same time to consider leather and leather goods from a cradle to cradle point of view. Look at the raw material, look at the leather in the drums, make real leather and think right down to how the consumer will use the leather in the final product

Steron finish

dr-taegerDr Taeger also talked about the new innovative Steron finish which BASF launched last year and for which they are building a pilot plant. This was designed to help with automobile leather where a permeable highly breathable leather is often required, This would normally require a perforated leather – which is often to be found in cars these days – or almost no finish which will not work in this sector. Steron is a semi-laminate system, which puts pigmented polyurethanes on a release paper and via a system of post preparation evaporation is wafer thin and highly permeable, yet meets automobile requirements.

I have provided a podcast of Dr Taeger’s talk (mp3 12.5MB). I was sitting at the back of the room so it is not the best, as he spoke quietly without a microphone. It is short though and if you put the volume high and persevere for the first few seconds I think you will hear it fine on your computer or iPod. Well worth listening to.

Mike Redwood

10th June 2008

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