The synthetic or Artificial leather is a fabric or finish intended to substitute for leather. There are considerable diversities in its preparation. The commonest technique is the use of calico. These are the processes through which the fabric is transformed into leather:
1. The material is spread on a large table.
2. It is then uniformly coated several times with a mixture of boiled linseed oil with dryers and lampblack or any suitable pigment.
3. The coated surface is then smoothened and compressed by passing the cotton material between metal rollers.
4. If a glossy enamel-like appearance is required, the surface again receives a finishing coat of copal varnish. On the other hand, if a grained Morocco surface is required, the material is passed through suitably embossed rollers.
The surface of the material intended to be used for the production of artificial leather can be coated with a chemical such as propylene. After the coating, the surface is embossed or finished to resemble natural leather.
Though cannot be compared with natural leather in several respects; it also has its own unique characteristics that make it very vital for use in the leatherwork industry. Many leather craftsmen even consider it as superior to natural leather because of its diversity in looks and use.
1. It comes in very broad size and long sheeting form-
Unlike natural leather, artificial leather can be obtained in very large sizes both in width and length. This extends its usage especially in the industries for the production of varieties of products such as furniture, upholstery etc.
2. It is resistant to both water and micro-organism-
Synthetic leather has the ability of highly resisting the attack of microorganisms and other termites from destroying it. Owing to how its surface has been treated, it is able to resist water and other forms of liquors from entering into it and destroying it.
3. It comes in different textures and thickness-
Synthetic leather is varied in its texture and thickness that is why its usage is broader than natural leather.
4. It can be dyed in varieties of colours-
The dyeing of synthetic leather is not limited to some specific colours like natural leather. Its tentacles are very wide as far as colours of dyes are concerned.
5. It is stain resistant-
Due to the fact that synthetic leather is able to effectively resist external influences such as the attack of microorganisms, its products can last longer but not as natural leather. It can also resist stains.
Aside from these good qualities of synthetic leather, there are some negative aspects of it. It is highly inflammable or burns rapidly when it approaches fire. Also, it is not elastic or flexible. An attempt to expand it would result in tearing.