Microfiber fabric is a revolutionary textile innovation known for its distinctive properties and versatility. It is ideal for a wide range of applications, and can mimic the look and feel of natural materials like cotton, linen and leather. When it comes to leather alternatives, both woven and non-woven microfibers have their own unique characteristics, so which is best suited to your next product innovation?

To weave, or not to weave?

The way microfiber fabrics are constructed can have a significant impact on the characteristics of the finished material. When manufacturing woven fabrics, a loom is used to interlace two or more microfiber threads or yarns at a right angle to form a flat surface. Through this, a more stable fabric is produced – one that is less likely to fray. The tight weave is ideal for heavy-duty applications, like drapery and upholstery. Despite this, a woven microfiber fabric can also be lightweight and breathable, meaning it is perfect for clothing.

Non-woven fabrics, on the other hand, are manufactured by bonding or fusing fibers together into a “web”. They are created through processes such as needle-punching or adhesive bonding, and fibers are entangled or bonded together without a traditional weaving pattern. There are three stages of creating non-woven fabrics: web formation, bonding and finishing. After the web formation, which involves arranging fibers into a sheet or web, the web is “bonded,” or fixed, using thermal, mechanical or chemical methods depending on the functional properties needed. Following comes a mechanical or chemical finishing treatment. Mechanical finishing can be done through methods such as stretching or perforating, while chemical finishing can modify the surface of the fibers to change the haptics of the end product. During this manufacturing process, non-woven microfiber can be developed as conductive, flame retardant, water repellent or antistatic, among many other sought-after qualities. Such fabrics can also be coated, printed, flocked, dyed or laminated to other materials.

Elevating leather alternatives

When it comes to microfiber fabrics as alternatives to leather, composition can impact both performance and durability. This is where non-woven microfibers shine – in cross section, they are nearly identical to genuine leathers, meaning that not only processability is improved; so too is the consumer perception of touch and texture. Non-woven microfiber leather tends to offer a more uniform surface without the distinctive weave patterns found in wovens, and this consistency appeals to producers who are seeking a more sleek and modern appearance. Furthermore, the absence of a grain pattern allows for customization opportunities.

Non-woven microfiber, however, allows manufacturers more flexibility to incorporate a variety of fibers like recycled materials. This level of versatility not only allows them to use sustainable practices, but also caters to consumer demands for more eco-friendly alternatives. Blending fibers while maintaining product quality is a key characteristic that sets non-woven microfiber leather apart.

Innovation, sustainability and quality

At Clarino, our man-made leathers contain microfibers designed to imitate collagen fiber bundles, delivering a soft feel and the leather-like appearance essential for soft “leather” applications. With this sustainable and practical alternative to leather, we’re committed to offering a quality experience with lightness, versatility and elegance.

Want to learn more? Contact us at amaretta@kuraray.com to find out how our non-woven microfiber can elevate your next man-made leather innovation.

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