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4 Leather Dyeing Facts You Should Know About!

  • Posted by: Dr. R.M

For a long time, dyes have played a major role in presentation of leather goods. Quality leather goods are highly durable and are passed down to generation, but their endurance usually lasts longer than their colour. Loss of colour can take place after:

  • Frequent use
  • Exposure to the sun
  • Natural oils are rubbed off from use

Fact is, leather goods are prone to showing their age. Leather dyeing takes place with the help and use of alcohol or spirit-based dyes, where alcohol is absorbed easily into the damp material.

Moreover, leather dyeing consists of three main components

  • The dye or pigment
  • A casein or nitrocellulose resin
  • A solvent

The Process of Leather Dyeing:

There are two main processes used to dye leather. They are:

  • Tanning
    Raw hides are treated to produce leather which is known as tanning. The hide is submerged in water to cleanse and soften it thoroughly. It is later covered in salt in order to absorb moisture and protect it from bacterial growth which can ruin the material. Tanning agents are highly responsible for the initial colour of leather. There are multiple tanning processes to create different kinds of leather. Some of them include:
    1. Plant/Vegetable Tanning: In plant or vegetable tanning, various parts like roots, leaves, bark, and stems of the plant are used. This gives the leather a brownish tone.
    2. Fat and Oil tanning: Fat and oil tanning gives leather a tingle of yellow. 
    3. Alum Tawing: Tawing with alum or synthetic tanning agents bring out whitish shade.
    4. Chrome Tanning: A bluish-grey texture is formed through chrome tanning.
  • FinishingAfter tanning is complete, the leather is dyed to meet the needs of the customer. During this process, two main colouring methods are applied. In the first method, the leather is colourised with the help of dyes and the second one uses surface pigments along with binder-based hues:
    1. Solid Colour: A similar shade to that of the leather is added to intensify the present colour.
    2. Two-Tones This finish consists of two shades that are either sprayed lightly or the second colour is hand wiped over the first.

Facts to be Keep in Mind While Dyeing Leather:

Fact #1: The leather gets spoilt if the right colour isn’t chosen
A lot of research and tests are carried out with different dye colours before settling on one particular colourant. If not carried out properly, the colour ends up ruining the material.   

Fact #2: Cleaning the leather enhances the process
It is essential to clean and wash leather before dyeing. Traces of hair or dust may stick to leather if not cleansed thoroughly leading to uneven patches. Wiping and cleaning the material with a damp cloth avoids any defects from occurring.

Fact #3: Thin coats hastens the drying process
The process of leather dyeing requires a lot of patience. Multiple layers are added that take time to dry up. Every layer needs to dry up before adding another coat. Two to four sheets are acquired to gain the acquired finishing. 

Fact #4: Leave the leather for at few days for optimum results
The leather is kept out to dry for at least two days as the dye effectively gets stuck to the material. Fidgeting with the tainted leather will leave a mark or end up in a disaster.

Dyeing is a critical process and can seem like an intimidating task, but it’s not hard if you follow the proper steps. With the right tints and techniques, leather dyeing turns out to be easy as colouring any fabric. It is a good idea to get in touch with a great company for industrial dyes such as Alps Chemicals for top quality results.

Author: Dr. R.M
Vice President, R&D of a large multinational company in the field of writing inks

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