Sedat Aydin and Hasan Dilki established their own chemical firm, Hi+Chem, Arti Kimya San ve Tic Limited Sirketi, a year ago in Istanbul. They found an enthusiastic backer in Arie Benezra, a specialist importer of chemical auxiliaries and aqueous pigments. Twelve or thirteen wet-end products, such as softeners, wool washing agents, penetrators and fixing agents, are on offer, formulated for the hair-on side of hides and skins.

A specialist in silicone science, Aydin has developed an elasto silicone emulsion that turns doubleface into a high performance leather. The product, named ‘Glosywool,’ is non ionic, with a pH of 4.5-5.5. The silicone strengthens and reinforces the individual hairs and imparts a silky, natural sheen to wool. ‘As leather quality improves, performance is becoming the new countermark’, Aydin stated.

The soft and shiny qualities remain intact even when the wool is trimmed to just a few millimetres. So, a jacket that weighed in at five kilograms, performs similarly after clipping and weighs just three kilograms, reducing air freight costs by about 15%. The application of ‘Glosywool’ adds only marginally to the cost of finishing but gives the seller a marketing advantage. Sen Deri of Istanbul incorporates the process in their sales strategy to European clients.

To come up with the precision formula for ‘Glosywool,’ Aydin researched over eighty silicone samples from many global producers. Aydin and Dilki co-ordinate their research with scientific scholars and universities to tap newest innovations. ‘We don’t need our own leather laboratory when we can access numerous accredited chemical laboratories’, Dilki explained.

Arti Kimya will have sales of 1,000 tons of chemicals for 2003. Their entire range is water-based, as they aim to be a leader in eco-chemical standards, even if the initial cost is higher. Ingredients are imported from specialist firms. Six people are employed in their 1,000 sq m factory.

In future, they will study how silicone might be applied to bovine hides. Also, Aydin says he is currently researching ways to ‘fortify’ the dermal layer of Merino sheep. Unlike the lighter, less fatty skins of Spanish or Italian lambs, this empty dermal layer in Merinos poses a specific challenge to tanners and stabilising it will simplify the tanning process.