For leather that meets the toughest requirements, LANXESS are continuously improving their chemicals portfolio to meet customers’ requirements. Recent, innovative product examples are the polymers Lubritan XS/XB for ‘open’ waterproofing technology. They can ideally be combined with Levotan PS 100 for waterproofing applications.

Regarding the regional focus of the business, Dr Bernhard Wehling, senior vice president of the Leather business unit, says: ‘China and India are currently the main growth markets for LANXESS’ tanning materials. China is already the most important market for leather chemicals worldwide. Our aim is to continue to grow faster than the market there.’

He added that, in addition to the traditional markets such as the shoe and furniture industries, the use of leather in the automotive industry was a promising growth sector.

The retanning agent Levotan PS 100 which is produced by LANXESS Wuxi Chemicals Co Ltd in Wuxi, China, specifically exemplifies the importance of the Asian and specifically of the Chinese market as a dedicated supplier of the leather industry.

Levotan PS 100 is an innovative powder polymer leading to outstanding leather properties. It is used at low pH values before rechroming. When adding it in combination with another innovative product like Levotan C-C 01, extreme tightness can result. The product is not only suitable for firm articles. If used for milled upper articles, a very fine and most even milling pattern over the whole area of the crust leather can be obtained. For the tanner this translates into an increased cutting yield.

Combining Levotan PS100 with suitable syntans yields a leather with vegetable type character, which meets highest fashion standards. One big advantage with using Levotan PS 100 is that the total retanning process is highly economical. Levotan PS 100 is also highly suitable for waterproof leather, yielding very firm leather. In combination with LubritanTM XB/XS, high value waterproof articles can be obtained.

As a result of recent investments at the Wuxi site, LANXESS now have considerable capacities for manufacturing powdered tanning materials from the Tanigan and Retingan ranges in China. This includes Tanigan SR-C, an anionic retanning agent which, in addition to having a dispersing and neutralising effect, is also a strong reducing agent – especially for free formaldehyde. ‘Tanigan SR-C has proved particularly effective at low to medium float temperatures’, says LANXESS leather expert Christopher Henzel.

Levotan XPS is a light fast, heat resistant and filling polymer retanning material with pronounced softening properties and waterproofing effect. The product is particularly suitable as an after treatment. It is used in polymer and fatliquoring mixtures as well as a waterproofing agent for soft mainly dry-drummed leather types. It is applied in the production of soft types of leather like softy upper, furniture upholstery, splits and soft waterproof leather.

Tanigan HO/Tanigan HO liquid are anionic replacement syntans with excellent light fastness and resistance to heat yellowing. They can be used in the retannage of all types of chrome leather and in synthetic tanning systems for white leather or added to vegetable tannages. When used in the retannage of chrome leather they are compatible with all common synthetic, resin and vegetable tanning materials and they have good dispersing properties on these products. When used in vegetable tannage, they lighten the colour of the leather and accelerate the penetration and dispersion of the tanning materials.

Aquaderm Finish HW2 is a newly developed polyurethane top coat binder for high wear automotive finishes and coatings which require excellent physical fastness properties, ie car upholstery leather.

In addition to its very good wear resistance and its good heat, cold and light stability, HW2 has excellent flex characteristics, very good rub fastness properties and has a high film elasticity despite its hardness.

Aquaderm Finish HAT is a hard PUD top coat binder for waterborne finishes and coatings. The main features are its hardness and hydrolysis resistance in combination with very good light fastness. The product has been developed especially as a PUD top coat component for NMP-free finishes and coatings. Especially remarkable for a binder of such hardness is its excellent flexing performance. HAT can be used in combination with other polyurethane dispersions of the Aquaderm and Bayderm product range. Therefore, top coats with excellent properties within a wide range of film-hardness can be made.

Opti-Matt A-1000 is a new dull silica-free acrylic top coat dispersion for furniture leather based on innovative matting technology. These top coats provide good wet rubs, good flex resistance and a very pleasant and soft feel. Finishes do not tend to repolish. The product can be used as a sole binder or in combination with, eg, Opti-Clear A-1100 as the gloss component in furniture top coats in order to achieve gloss levels from semi dull to glossy. Both products are developed by Rohm and Haas Corp, Philadelphia, USA, and marketed by LANXESS.

With their numerous production and marketing sites as well as research and development centres all over the world, LANXESS are in a position to meet global requirements and offer system solutions to their customers. LANXESS’s products for the leather industry include inorganic and synthetic tanning materials, preservatives and fatliquoring agents, dyestuffs and a wide range of tanning and finishing auxiliaries.

Shoe upper leather accounts for about half of the leather business unit’s sales, automotive leather for roughly a quarter, and furniture leather for 20%. The business unit forms part of LANXESS’s Performance Chemicals segment, which posted sales of e1,977 million in fiscal year 2005.