Sheepskin Manufacturing Process
SHEEPSKIN MANUFACTURING PROCESS
The pelts are a byproduct of the meat industry, and as such no animal is slaughtered purely for its skin. Our pelts are from Australian Merinos, they are shipped from Australia salted in order to maintain the product during transportation. Unsalted pelts deteriorate quickly and just after a few hours the wool will separate from the skin. The pelts are bundled together, with salt in between each layer and banded in groups of 25. As they arrive at our plant, the pelts are ready for tanning. Tanning is a very ancient practice, more an art than a science and the know how is conveyed from generation to generation.
The first operation consist in re-hydrating the pelt to restore the collagen and lanolin. The pelts are immersed in open tanks and heated in order to accelerate the soaking. This is a very important step in the process as if the pelt is not properly soaked, it will be brittle when stretching.
Although most residues of flesh have been removed in Australia, some fatty tissues might still be attached to the underside of the skin and have to be removed. This phase is the degreasing of the pelt.
This is the most delicate step of the process, where the pelts are immersed in a solution to preserve the wool as well the adherence of the fur on the skin. Surfactants are being used at an elevated temperature to remove dirt and debris as well as some of the lanolin. This is similar to a washing process, with agitation in large tanks, usually slightly below 40 degrees Celsius.
The pelts are soaked again and salt is being added as most of it was washed during scouring.
Depending on the product being manufactured, there is a need to change the original color of the wool, in particular with sheepskin seat covers where we are trying to match the interior of your car. During this step, the pelts are placed in a vessel containing pigments.
Stretching & Drying:
The dyed pelts are now dried. The pelts are placed under tension with clips on a metallic mesh plate. The mesh is attached to an overhead conveyor and enteres an oven to remove most of the water from the wool. The pelt, still stretched is then placed outside for the skin to thoroughly dry in open air.
The pelts are now ready for manufacturing and are being cut and sewn to the specifications of the finished product.