The industry is constantly offering new products that closely resemble leather, but are not. Imitation leather or vinyl, synthetic or by-cast leather are some names for this material. Some have a backing (back side) of textile such as imitation leather, which makes it clear with which material we have to deal. Other articles are made on the split layer of leather and are therefore offered as "real leather". This is confusing for the consumer.
The top layer of most artificial leather types consists of a polyurethane coating. Their maintenance requires a separate approach. With the Sedicur® product line, we have redefined the standard in artificial leather maintenance.
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Artificial leather is offered in different compositions:
- Artificial leather on a PVC base
A synthetic product based on PVC, a top finish with solvents is often used.
- Imitation leather on PUR basis (polyurethane)
Water-based lacquers are almost always used with synthetic products based on PUR. With some of these products based on PUR, the various layers are fused into one. No carrier is then needed anymore.
Artificial leather is often used in furniture, cars, upholstery and projects. Also for artificial leather it is that not all perfect properties can be 100% combined. Higher abrasion values sometimes lead to a lower color fastness and vice versa.
What requirements must artificial leather meet?
There are various standards that artificial leather must meet. DIN EN 15618 is a general quality test. The RAL-GZ 430/4 are specific requirements for the (German) seating furniture industry. Car manufacturers often place additional demands on the product.
- Arificial leather RAL-GZ 430/4:
In this specification, artificial leather is defined as textile on which several layers have been applied, creating a leather-like surface. The composition of the material must always be indicated. The rub tests must achieve a minimum of 4.5 in accordance with DIN EN ISO 105-X12, dry and wet. Lightfastness minimum 5. In some cases a minimum of 6 according to DIN EN ISO 105-B02 is required. And there are even more specifications that artificial leather must meet.
What should be considered when processing artificial leather?
Artificial leather is generally less strong than real leather. Therefore, there are limitations on employability in the industry. Strong bends can split the top layer. Using too thick needles and stitching can cause artificial leather to tear.
What should be paid attention to by the users of artificial leather?
PVC is in itself a hard material. By adding plasticisers, PVC has much smoother properties. The plasticizers settle between the molecules and make the product quasi lighter. When these plasticizers escape, the surface dries out and is irreparably damaged. This process is enhanced by working with unsuitable cleaners.
Damage from hydrolysis
Hydrolysis is the splitting of a chemical compound with the absorption of water. The polyester chains in PUR synthetic leather can be split by hydrolysis. This process is irreversible. This process can be caused by regular cleaning with too much water or by excessively high humidity. The greater the proportion of polyester, the greater the chance of hydrolysis. Wiping with a damp cloth is therefore not always good.
The above damage to artificial leather can be exacerbated by perspiration and skin oil. Skin cream / lotion may contain emulsifiers, oils and fats, glycerine and preservatives that are unsuitable. Sunscreens and insect sprays may contain ingredients that damage the artificial leather (DEET, alcohol, aldehyde)
Reactions with fats and oils allow the plasticisers in PVC to migrate earlier and PUR can set up artificial leather. Alcohol and solvents damage the lacquer of PUR synthetic leather and even completely dissolve PVC.
Safe cleaning and proper maintenance
Artificial leather is often sold as an unproblematic panacea. However, the material is very fragile if handled incorrectly. Do not treat artificial leather with household, garden and kitchen products, but choose special artificial leather products.
General maintenance advice:
Keep artificial leather dust-free. Preferably with a clean dry cloth (or the LCK® cleaning glove) wipe weekly. Sedicur® strong protector offers extra protection against premature soiling.
A variety of disinfectants are available. The active substances differ per product. We recommend to use disinfectants only after explicit approval by the manufacturer.