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The Leather Production Process 

  1. Receipt and Storage of Raw Hides:  Raw hides are received by the tannery and are sorted and batched for processing.

  2. Soaking:  The hides are soaked to restore lost moisture and to soften them for further processing.

  3. Un-hairing:  A chemical or mechanical process is used to remove hair and soften the skin.

  4. Trimming and Siding:  The hides are placed on a conveyor where they are trimmed and cut in half into two "sides".

  5. Fleshing:  By mechanical process, excess flesh and fatty substances are removed.

  6. Bating:  The hides are drum-washed in various solutions to remove any residual un-hairing chemicals, and then enzymes (i.e., "bates") are added to remove undesirable hair roots, pigments, etc.

  7. Pickling:  The hides are soaked in a salt and acid solution to prepare them for tanning.

  8. Tanning:  In large revolving drums, the hides are "chrome tanned" (i.e.. soaked with chromium sulfate) with results in a more stable, resistant, and flexible leather product.

  9. Wringing and Sorting:  The hides are put through a wringer to remove excess moisture, and are sorted for thickness.

  10. Splitting and Shaving:  The flesh side underneath the grain is cut off on a splitting machine, and the grain portion is then shaved to achieve desired thickness.

  11. Re-tanning, Coloring and Fat-liquoring:  The hides are tanned again with other chemicals to achieve certain desired properties (e.g., softness, bleached, color, etc.), and then are drum-dyed for the desired color, and finally are "fat-liquored" to lubricate the fibers and flexibility and softness.

  12. Setting Out and Drying:  The hides are mechanically smoothed, stretched, and compressed, and then dried. Drying methods include hanging or pasting the hides and passing them through an oven or vacuum drying.

  13. Conditioning: Water mist is sprayed on the hides to rewet them to the desired moisture level.

  14. Milling:  The hides are put onto a dry drum where they are tumbled for various lengths of time to achieve the desired softness, texture, and grain pattern.  In some cases, water may be added to the milling drum to render the hides softer and more flexible. 


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