Chair manufacturers have an increasing array of different types of real and synthetic leathers. This gives designers a variety of materials that can be used in different applications. Typically, recliners were covered in real leather. Real leather is durable and has some very good qualities. However, limitations in leather and the development of new technologies have made synthetic leathers of very high quality matching or exceeding those of real leather.
Real leather that is used in furniture is put through a process called toggle dried. The pieces of leather are spread out over a large frame. They are held in place by toggles. The material is then softened by milling. A series of coatings are applied to the surface to help protect it and make it more attractive.
Of course, leather is certainly not cheap. It can run upwards of $500 per hide. One of the advantages of leather is that it breathes. It has small pores allowing air to pass keeping it cool. Its main drawback is that it can be hard to clean.
A class of man-made leather is called artificial leather. This is a fabric or finish intended to substitute for real leather. Artificial leather was the first attempt at trying to replace real leather. Artificial leather may consist of a web of calico coated with boiled linseed oil. Several coats of this mixture were uniformly spread on a cotton surface until it had a glossy finish. However, artificial leather does not stand up to the demands of a massage chair using rollers.
American leather cloth or the more modern term is Pleather was the next major breakthrough. This synthetic leather is made by using PVC which is stretched very thin. It is then applied to a strong woven backing. It is very stain resistant, strong and has a wide range of textures and colors.
Designers of massage chairs and recliners now have a variety of different materials at their disposal. Some upholstery materials are preferred over others depending on the application. You can still find real leather in massage chairs, but it is not used where those recliners have heating elements.
Heating elements tend to damage real leather. Real leather is not able to thermal cycle without cracking through time. Newer materials like polyurethane leather are much more durable and do not crack.
Many people look down at synthetic leathers as inferior materials. However, technology has brought some of these to equal or surpass real leather. Manufacturers now have a choice depending on the application which will provide consumers with better and more effective products.
Which of these materials is best? One of the main factors is the application in which it is used. It is not always a basis of cost as to the material selected. Higher end massage chairs generally will pick the best materials to provide a more luxurious experience. Lower end massage chairs may substitute the quality of their PU leather supplier materials in order to bring the price point lower.
It is important to understand some of the fundamental differences in the different types of leathers available. This gives you a better perspective on why certain materials were selected for a given recliner. Many people are pleasantly surprised at the softness, durability and easy cleanup of today's synthetic leathers. However, real leather will always have a place in the recliner market.
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.