The collective leather industry is setting its sights on Dresden at the end of June for the XXXV IULTCS Congress. It has been two years since the last congress in Chennai and the remarkable strides that have been made in leather chemicals since then will be highlighted across the many lectures, presentations and discussions on 25–28 June.

By integrating all horizontal and vertical supply chains in the industry, and in accompanying brands and retailers, the 2019 congress will give experts and professionals a broader and intricate view of various stakeholders’ demands, innovations and goals.

According to the IULTCS statutes, one of its aims is to enhance cooperation between member societies, and hold congresses that further the advancement of leather science and technology. To date, IULTCS has held more than 30 in 17 countries on five continents.

This edition, built around the theme of ‘Benign by Design’, will be framed with a social programme promoting education and how R&D is forging a more sustainable future for leather production. Educating those in the industry with the capability to realise bold ideas is just as important as informing the general consumer about the benefits of leather and its commitment to sustainability. Modern chemical solutions should strive to end environmental decline, which this year’s congress aims to prioritise.

Congress highlights for 2019

Over the course of the congress, many fascinating talks will take place covering a broad range of topics. The Heidemann Lecture, of course, is the traditional kick-off to the event, and this edition’s lecture will be given by Newcastle University in Singapore’s KL Goh, who will speak about macro to nano scale perspectives of collagen stability, exploring the degree of collagen fibril alignment in tissue, how to rethink the mechanics of cross-linking between fibrils, and the influence of fibril diameter on interfibrillar stress transfer.

Heusch, Filk and TU Dresden will discuss a new approach to understanding the physics of shaving, and how to create a knowledge archive to serve as a technical base to develop novel and more effective shaving blades. The physical basics of the shaving process are not yet fully understood, they say, and more focus is needed on the interaction between the blade and leather fibres during the shaving process.

In session three, representatives from CSIR will speak about a ‘green’ approach to the optimal transport and delivery of natural oils through biopolymerliposome composites for fatliquor applications.

TFL will address evaluating the performance limits of automotive leathers. Poor performance of auto leather becomes visible as the polymeric finishing coat wears off or cracks over time. Therefore, ageing property is seen as a representative key performance parameter, and is determined by checking how flexible and strong a polymer coating remains after leather has been exposed to light, heat and humidity.

The ageing of leather is complex to determine. Therefore, crust leather has a critical impact on the performance of the finishing coat of automotive leathers, and requires careful selection of products and use of protective chemicals. Polymer selection and the use of protective chemicals also play an important role in achieving good aged flexing performance.