Composite material for leather goods industry with Huntsman's TPU

Composite material for leather… Italian company Industrie Chimiche Forestali S.p.A (Forestali) has developed an innovative composite material for the leather goods industry using a special grade of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) from global chemical company Huntsman. The composite material, which features a durable layer of TPU, is called Tintoretto and is designed to improve the structural integrity of high-end leather goods such as designer handbags and belts.

Forestali is a leading producer of adhesives for the leather goods market as well as for footwear, sailing and furniture applications. The business also manufactures a wide range of impregnated fabrics and textiles.

After spotting a gap in the leather goods market, Forestali contacted Huntsman - one of its long-term suppliers. Forestali wanted Huntsman's help to develop a durable material that could be wrapped in leather to form structural components for bags, for example, weight-bearing handles and shoulder straps. Specifically, Forestali wanted Huntsman's advice on a polyurethane-based solution that could be used to coat a non-woven polyester and create inserts that were strong and robust but also incredibly flexible and soft to touch.

Huntsman's first step was to recommend the use of a polyester-based TPU from its Irogran family of products. Originally developed for hot melt calendaring applications, the Irogran grade in question is also suitable for multilayer extruding. Offering outstanding batch-to-batch consistency, the recommended TPU is low in color and can be easily pigmented. It is also compatible with a variety of adhesives based on natural and synthetic lattices.

Satisfied with Huntsman's suggestion and supported by the chemical company's technical team, Forestali developed Tintoretto. The end result is a material that is easy to produce and can be cut in any direction without compromising dimensional stability. Thanks to the mechanical properties of Irogran TPU, Tintoretto is also resistant to humidity, heat and cold and can withstand repeated mechanical actions such as bending.

Mr. Emiliano Bozzato, R&D Manager at Forestali said; "The team at Huntsman very quickly understood where we wanted to get to with Tintoretto and recommended a TPU that was perfect for the task in hand. We've worked with Huntsman over many years so we knew they would come up with a practical solution. Using Irogran TPU we've been able to create a hardwearing but flexible product that appeals to discerning decision makers across the global leather goods market."

Andrea Martignoni, Huntsman's Account Manager for TPU in South Europe, said: "Our work with Forestali is indicative of the partnership approach we take to working with our customers – helping them develop innovative solutions to sector specific problems that they've identified. We've worked with Forestali for many years, helping them make TPU-based adhesives so it was good to work on a new project that has ultimately opened up new business opportunities for the company. The use of an Irogran grade TPU in the development of Tintoretto demonstrates the reliability of our TPUs, which work hard in an array of everyday items, often hidden from sight."

Forestali uses a range of manufacturing processes to create its coated textiles from impregnation to hot melt sizing, powder sizing and co-extrusion. Alongside impregnated fabrics, Forestali also manufactures adhesives for flexible packaging and upholstered furniture applications.