Utilising 3D printable leather composite materials towards repair, reuse and increased longevity of leather products

  Leather is used in many luxury and utilitarian goods in our daily life. While many leather products, previously thought of as heirlooms, have become more replaceable and throwaway, many still aspire to longevity. Products that are extremely expensive to replace, or those whose three-dimensional form embodies a great deal of time, skill and materials would benefit from an innovative repair process. Applying material created from part of the leather manufacturing process that otherwise goes to waste, the potential exists to increase lifespan, reduce waste and, augment existing products using a new composite material. The proposal has the potential to be built into products and customer service at the design level with a narrative around the added value from a new composite repair material process.

This project aims to develop a new process and material for 3D printing (including the use of a 3D pen) using a new flexible composite leather and PLA filament, utilising waste leather 'buffing dust', to repair faults and increase yield and lifespan in leather manufactured products. This process also has the potential to open up new composite products in which leather is modified or augmented with 3D printing to add utilitarian or decorative surface texture, three-dimensional pattern or high added-value aesthetic properties.

This project would be in partnership between Edinburgh Napier University's Schools of Design, Advanced Materials and the Scottish Leather Group. It builds on existing research undertaken by Dr Sam Vettese into composite 3D Printing filaments using waste materials from Scotland's textile industry, funded by the Textile Futures Forum, and research by Paul Kerlaff into design for re-use and remanufacture in furniture.

  • Start Date:

    21 January 2019

  • End Date:

    31 July 2019

  • Activity Type:

    Externally Funded Research

  • Funder:

    The Scottish Institute for Remanufacture

  • Value:

    £49882

Project Team