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How to become a Leather Technologist

leather technologist careers

What does a Leather Technologist do?

Leather technologists work with the chemical processes used in the preparation, treatment and finishing in leather production. They use scientific and technical skills to ensure the production cycle runs efficiently and safely, and that finished products meet quality standards.

There are various stages to the manufacturing process in which technologists are involved, including:

Curing – initial preservation of the hide before treatment by salting, chilling or with biochemicals.

Liming and fleshing – the removal of hair and tissue from the hide causing it to become alkaline in nature.

De-liming and bating – using enzymes to neutralise the alkalis produced in the previous stage.

Pickling and de-greasing – weak acidic solutions are applied to the hide to preserve and prepare it for tanning, and solvents applied to clear any residual grease.

Tanning – a key stage, using chromium salt compounds, aldehydes or vegetable extracts, which stabilises the leather, stops it from putrefying and gives it the versatility for use in a wide range of products. It also gives added resistance to the effects of heat, water and micro-organisms.

Dyeing, drying and finishing – leather is coloured and mechanically dried, and finishes are applied to conceal surface flaws and provide a protective coating, for instance, waterproofing.

Before dispatch, leather products are measured and graded according to customer requirements, for instance, softness, colour, thickness and finish.

Typical duties combine the supervision of operatives on the factory floor with laboratory work, researching, testing and sampling the chemicals, dyes and products in use. Monitoring of waste and by-products is also important to ensure that they fall within safety limits. Technologists also undertake administrative duties, writing up research and operational reports for managers.

What's the working environment like working as a Leather Technologist?

Leather technologists usually work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, although some factories and workshops have shift systems in operation.

Technologists work in factories, workshops, laboratories and in offices. Some work involves the use of hazardous chemicals and dyes, so protective clothing may be required.

What does it take to become a Leather Technologist?

To be a leather technologist you should:

  • have an aptitude for science, particularly chemistry
  • have some mechanical and engineering knowledge
  • be able to plan projects, conduct experiments and develop new ideas
  • be able to analyse and interpret test results
  • be able to work methodically and accurately
  • be able to work in a team and supervise other people
  • be aware of health and safety issues.

Leather Technologist Career Opportunities

Leather factories are situated throughout the UK. Work is also available in the footwear industry, chemical and engineering industries, and manufacturers of leather goods such as bags, suitcases, upholstery and sports equipment.

Leather technologists often move into related roles such as production, technical management, company chemist, buying and sales.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Leather Technologist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The British School of Leather Technology
University of Northampton
Moulton Park
Northampton
NN2 7AL
Tel: 01604 735500
www.leathernet.com/bslt

Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists
www.sltc.org

BLC Leather Technology Centre Ltd
Leather Trade House
Kings Park Road
Moulton Park
Northampton
NN3 6JD
Tel: 01604 679999
www.blcleathertech.com



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Courses to help you become a Leather Technologist