Faux Leather… That Feels Real

Source economical faux leathers that feel expensive

Overview

Consumers buying premium automobiles expect interiors with leathers that feel luxurious. However the use of leather can significantly increase the price of the vehicle, so faux leather trim can be used in areas, as long as it feels close to the real stuff! Tier-2 suppliers have developed a range of faux leather options, but sourcing it to feel just like the natural leathers is hard. The objective of this project was to find faux leathers that had the same feel as real leathers to make luxury affordable.

Faux feather was identified with nearly identical feel and a fraction of the cost.

Project

An automotive OEM provided to SynTouch a sample of expensive natural leather that their designers and customer panels had indicated had the ideal feel. The customer had already tried to match this example ‘by hand’ to inexpensive materials on the market, but could not find a material that felt identical. The customer connected SynTouch to their liaisons at Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers to collect inexpensive manmade leather alternatives.

Process

SynTouch tested both the natural leather from the OEM and the materials provided by suppliers. The results indicated that several kinds of faux leather from one Tier-2 were close to generating the right sensations to match the natural leather, one was slightly too coarse, the other slightly too fine.

The OEM’s premium leather was compared to manmade leather alternatives from Suppliers A-C. Supplier A had materials that felt far too tacky (hover/link: aTK: Adhesive Tack) – faux leather that would unpleasantly adhere to bare skin. Supplier B resolved the adhesion problem but only offered materials that were all much coarser (hover/link mCO: Macrotexture Coarseness) than desired – likely using grain effect with large patterns. Supplier C had two materials that that were slightly coarser, and slightly finer that desired, making it possible to guide them to produce a material that felt just right.

Outcome

The automotive OEM had their problem solved. SynTouch found a company providing faux leather that felt similar to what the OEM desired, and provided the needed information for the Tier-2 to adjust their methods (See Designing Materials that Feel Right) and produce a material that the OEM would purchase. The result was the OEM sourced inexpensive manmade faux leather that matched the ideal feel of the leather they wanted. The automaker was able to deliver a car interior that felt like it used elite materials but was less expensive than their competitors.

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