Thursday, 23 October 2014

Automotive Silica Coatings

Silica Coating
[: The hydrophobicity of a surface is determined by the contact angle. The higher the contact angle the higher the hydrophobicity of a surface. Surfaces with a contact angle < 90° are referred to as hydrophilic and those with an angle >90° as hydrophobic. Some plants show contact angles up to 160° and are called super-hydrophobic meaning that only 2-3% of a drop's surface is in contact. Plants with a double structured surface like the lotus can reach a contact angle of 170° whereas a droplet’s actual contact area is only 0.6%. All this leads to a self-cleaning effect.
Dirt particles with an extremely reduced contact area are picked up by water droplets and are thus easily cleaned off the surface. If a water droplet rolls across such a contaminated surface the adhesion between the dirt particles, irrespective its chemistry, and the droplet is higher than between the particle and the surface]
Paint sealants compared to Coatings
Automotive paint surfaces are porous and contain microscopic peaks and valleys, much like the profile of a mountain range. These irregularities are known as capillary structures; there may be millions of these defects per square inch. Contaminants such as fine dirt, minerals, and pollutants are drawn into the voids where they are extremely hard to remove.
Paint sealants are synthetic products designed for long-term paint protection and easy application. They are composed mainly of amino functional polymers, which last longer than any natural wax and are highly resistant to the elements. Synthetic liquid waxes are another way of describing paint sealants. The main benefit of a paint sealant is their durability compared to a wax, polymer-based sealants will last anywhere from 3 to 6 months.
A coating is applied to a clean surface that surface takes on properties that are virtually identical to hardened glass. It is chemically inert and will not react with the base material. In other words, dirt will not bond to the treated surface, thereby reducing soiling and organic staining. Acid rain and other chemical compounds easily wash off, significantly reducing the hydroscopic nature of surfaces exposed to industrial or environmental pollution.
Hydrophobic surface [: The requirements for a self-cleaning hydrophobic surface are a very high static water contact angle θ, the condition often quoted is θ>160°, and a very low roll-off angle, i.e. the minimum inclination angle necessary for a droplet to roll off the surface] [1]
Repellant [: able to repel a particular thing; impervious to a particular substance]
The lotus effect [: refers to self-cleaning properties that are a result of very high water repellence (super- hydrophobicity), as exhibited by the leaves of the lotus flower] Dirt particles are picked up by water droplets due to the micro architecture on the surface, which minimizes the droplet's adhesion to that surface
Silica Coating consist of four chemicals – Silicon (Si), Siloxane (H(OSiH2)n OH), Silane (SiH4 ) and Silazane(a silicone compound), once formulated they become Silicon Dioxide (SiO2) they are marketed under various brand names:  AQuartz  is an inorganic silica / silicon dioxide, G|techniq is an inorganic silicate crystallization compound, Nanolex is an  inorganic, solvent-based nanostructure coating, Opti-Coat™ is a polymer-based (Si02) coatings. DuPont's SupraShield™, PPG's Optech™ and CeramiClear™ are all inorganic silica automotive paint coatings.
Be cognizant that there are many glass coats in the market today and many of them can all be traced back to one or two suppliers
Silica coating are a clear liquid in a molecular form that is held in a polymer solvent carrier system. This silica is aerobic (hardens on contact with air) and becomes glass. Multi-chemical component coatings interlace on a molecular basis and form an extremely durable protective layer on the paint surface provided they are applied properly. These coatings are chemically inert and are highly resistant to a range of chemicals both acid to Ph. 2.0 and alkali to Ph. 13.5  acid, they also offer resistance to solvents, and they are very durable and capable of obtaining a surface thickness of Mils (µ (microns) to be verified
When a silica coating is applied to a clean surface, that surface takes on properties that are virtually identical to hardened glass. It is chemically inert and will not react with the base material. In other words, dirt will not bond to the treated surface, thereby reducing soiling and organic staining.
Acid rain, bird excrement and other chemical compounds easily wash off, significantly reducing the hydroscopic nature of surfaces exposed to industrial or environmental pollution.
The paint surface is porous and contains microscopic peaks and valleys, much like the profile of a mountain range. These irregularities are known as capillary structures. Contaminants such as fine dirt, minerals, and pollutants are drawn into the voids where they are extremely hard to remove. Capillary structures also provide microbes and bacteria with an excellent place to grow and multiply.
A silica coating fills the capillary structures, which produces a smooth flat hydrophobic surface. (A hydrophobic surface is one that repels moisture.) In contrast, a hydrophilic surface is one that absorbs moisture. The potential of a surface to absorb or repel moisture is based on many factors, including: temperature, relative humidity, material homogeneity, and static electricity. Surface roughness is also a major factor; the rougher the surface, the higher the spreading rate or attraction for water. The smoother the surface, the more repellent it is to moisture.
Some formulations of Liquid glass contain titanium dioxide for extra shine without affecting durability. These micro-particles of titanium dioxide reflect light of specific wavelengths, producing an instant luminous shine and gloss. Titanium dioxide is sensitive to photocatalyzation and produces traces of active oxygen when exposed to ultra violet (UV) radiation. This effect helps the coating to prevent the attachment of contaminants to the paint. This means that, in most instances, environmentally damaging cleaning chemicals are not needed.
Silicosis happens by breathing the dust particulates of glass, which cut and scar the lungs, causing damage, which results in diminished lung capacity. So where does the silicon dioxide enter into this equation as a safe product to breathe when applied as a spray? 
Liquid glass is actually a mixture of caustic soda, quartz sand, and water are prepared in a mixing tank, then fed into a reactor, where steam is introduced. The reaction is (n SiO2 + 2 NaOH → Na2O•nSiO2 + H2O). Sodium silicate is spherical silica in a liquid state, which essentially means ‘liquid glass’ crystals which are smooth and round instead of sharp and pointed.
Because there are no sharp edges to damage lung tissue it is relatively safe to breath. But why would we think it is safe to fill our lungs with round glass any more than with jagged sharp glass particles? Do the lungs have the ability to process and get rid of the ‘spherical’ shapes through the blood stream? 
Is ‘liquid silicon dioxide’ really ‘colloidal silica,’ or is it ‘sodium silicate’?  Silicon dioxide = SiO2 and Sodium silicate = Na2SiO3. Colloidal silica is simply the liquid spherical shape of silicon dioxide while sodium silicate is silicon dioxide with an added salt element (Na). Both products are derived from the second most abundant element on Earth – sand.
I would strongly suggest you do not breathe it in but use the appropriate personal protection. If you were to examine the urethane clear coat with high-performance electron- microscope, you would see lots of fissures or micro holes. Nano sized silica glass particles penetrate these fissures to form a mechanical anchor with the clear coat, creating a durable finish that won't fracture
Modesta P-01A and BC-04 Nano-Titanium Glass coating - is definitely a worthy investment if your vehicles appearance is important to you. An advanced and very unique glass coating, it forms a highly durable, clear hard glass layer on automotive paints. BC-05 produces a deep shine and helps to protect the paint from all kinds of damage including wash-induced damages, scratches, oxidation, sap, watermarks, salts, acids and even permanent ink and paints. Its strong water-repellent properties also promote the self-cleaning (Lotus effect).  Used stand-alone as a sealant, BC-05 produces a unique candy-like gloss. If combined with the P-01A primer this effect is even deeper as the layers of both products are combined to a single coat. It can be applied even to the most advanced and sophisticated paints, such as Nissan Scratch Shield, Lexus’ self-restoring coat and Mercedes ceramic paint. Durability is claimed to be in excess of 10 years.
Product Application
Use the appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) an approved mask (Consult the current 3M Respiratory Selection Guide for additional information or call 1-800-243-4630 for 3M technical assistance) nitrile gloves and safety glasses as a minimum
My preferred application method is to use base coating (P-01A) applied with a rotary machine polisher and apply the coating with a spray gun as I feel this gives a consistent thickness and coverage. The coating can be applied with a micro fibre towel but the major disadvantage of this type of application is the coating dries and solidifies to glass, which means you need 5- 8 towels that will be discarded after use.
Drying / Curing
Use of infra-red lamps is highly recommended
Allow 24 hours on a moisture / dust free environment
Silica coatings offers superior durability, hydrophobicity, surface hardness and scratch resistance, resistance to environmental contaminants and works in a similar way to a clear coat in providing ultra violet (UV) and heat radiation protection without colour change (yellowing) or oxidation and easier maintenance, simply rinsing with plain water results in a clean surface without loss of gloss. I think these products will have a profound impact and radically change auto detailing
1.      Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Library & Information Centre
2.      Glossary of Chemical Terms - Faculty of Chemical Technology
3.      Basic Concepts of Nanotechnology, History of Nano-Technology, News, Materials and Potential Risks
4.      Lotus-inspired nanotechnology applications, B. Karthick1  and Ramesh Maheshwari
5.      SpecialChem4 Polymers
6.      Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics
7.      European Coatings Handbook 2nd Edition, by Brock, Groteklaes, Mischke
8.      Bayer Material Science, Automotive  eNewsletters (Coating, Adhesives and Specialties)
The information in this article is based on the current status of the technical development as well as our experience with the products.
*  Copyright © TOGWT ® 2002-2010, all rights reserved

The Lotus Effect - super-hydrophilic surfaces

The Lotus Effect - super-hydrophilic surfaces

[: The hydrophobicity of a surface is determined by the contact angle. The higher the contact angle the higher the hydrophobicity of a surface. Surfaces with a contact angle < 90° are referred to as hydrophilic and those with an angle >90° as hydrophobic. Some plants show contact angles up to 160° and are called super-hydrophobic meaning that only 2-3% of a drop's surface is in contact. Plants with a double structured surface like the lotus can reach a contact angle of 170° whereas a droplet’s actual contact area is only 0.6%. All this leads to a self-cleaning effect.

Dirt particles with an extremely reduced contact area are picked up by water droplets and are thus easily cleaned off the surface. If a water droplet rolls across such a contaminated surface the adhesion between the dirt particles, irrespective its chemistry, and the droplet is higher than between the particle and the surface].


Wilhelm Barthlott of the University of Bonn in Germany, discoverer and developer of the “lotus effect,” has a vision of a self-cleaning Manhattan, where a little rain washes the windows and walls of skyscrapers as clean as the immaculate lotus. Elsewhere, he sees tents and marquees using new textiles that stay equally spotless with no intervention from a human cleaner. He is not the only one with his sights set on a future populated with objects that rarely if ever need washing: in Japan, technologists are developing self-deodorizing and disinfectant surfaces for bathrooms and hospitals.

Michael Rubner and Robert Cohen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) envisage similar technologies keeping bathroom mirrors un-fogged and controlling micro fluidic “labs on a chip” (in which fluids move through microscopic pathways). Already with us are shirts, blouses, skirts and trousers that shrug off ketchup, mustard, red wine and coffee. A revolution in self-cleaning surfaces is under way.

The story of self-cleaning materials begins in nature with the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), a radiantly graceful aquatic perennial that has played an enormous role in the religions and cultures of India, Myanmar, China and Japan. The lotus is venerated because of its exceptional purity. It grows in muddy water, but its leaves, when they emerge, stand meters above the water and are seemingly never dirty. Drops of water on a lotus leaf have an unearthly sparkle, and rainwater washes dirt from that leaf more readily than from any other plant.

It is this last property that drew Barthlott’s attention. In the 1970s he became excited by the possibilities of the scanning electron microscope, which had become commercially available in 1965 and offered vivid images down to the nanometre realm. At that scale of magnification, specks of dirt can ruin the picture, and so the samples have to be cleaned.

But Barthlott noticed that some plants never seemed to need washing, and the prince of these was the lotus. Barthlott realized that the effect is caused by the combination of two features of the leaf surface: its waxiness and the microscopic bumps (a few microns in size) that cover it. He knew from basic physics that the waxiness alone should make the leaves hydrophobic, or water-hating. On such a material, drops of water sit up high to minimize their area of contact with the material. Water on a more hydrophilic, or water-loving, substance spreads across it to maximize the contact area for a hydrophilic surface, the contact angle (where the droplet’s surface meets the material) is less than 30 degrees; a hydrophobic surface has a contact angle greater than 90 degrees.

In addition, he understood that the innumerable bumps take things a step further and cause the lotus surface to be super hydrophobic—the contact angle exceeds 150 degrees, and water on it forms nearly spherical droplets with very little surface contact that roll across it as easily as ball bearings would. The water sits on top of the bumps like a person lying on a bed of nails. Air trapped between the water and the leaf surface in the spaces around the bumps increases the contact angle, an effect that is described by the Cassie-Baxter equation, named after A.B.D. Cassie and S. Baxter, who first developed it in the 1940s -

Wetting [: the ability of a liquid to maintain contact with a solid surface, resulting from intermolecular interactions when the two are brought together. The degree of wetting (wettability) is determined by a force balance between adhesive and cohesive forces]

Dirt, Barthlott saw, similarly touches only the peaks of the lotus leaf’s bumps. Raindrops easily wet the dirt and roll it off the leaf. This discovery that microscopic bumps enhance cleanliness is wonderfully paradoxical. I learned at my mother’s apron that “nooks and crannies harbour dirt”—capturing the conventional folk wisdom that if you want to keep things clean, keep them smooth. But contemplation of the lotus showed that this homily is not entirely true.

First and foremost a botanist, Barthlott initially did not see commercial possibilities in his observation of how the minuscule bumps keep lotus leaves spotless. In the 1980s, though, he realized that if rough, waxy surfaces could be synthesized, an artificial lotus effect could have many applications. He later patented the idea of constructing surfaces with microscopic raised areas to make them self-cleaning and registered Lotus Effect as a trademark.

Engineering a super hydrophobic surface on an object by using the lotus effect was not easy—the nature of a hydrophobic material is to repel, but this stuff that repels everything has to be made to stick to the object itself. Nevertheless, by the early 1990s Barthlott had created the “honey spoon”: a spoon with a homemade microscopically rough silicone surface that allows honey to roll off, leaving none behind. This product finally convinced some large chemical companies that the technique was viable, and their research muscle was soon finding more ways to exploit the effect.

The leading application so far is the facade paint for buildings, introduced in 1999 by the German multinational Sto AG and a huge success. “Lotus Effect” is now a household name in Germany; last October the journal Wirtschafts*woche named it as one of the 50 most significant German inventions of recent years.

No More Restaurant Disasters

Say “self-cleaning...,” and many people would add “clothes” as the missing word. We do not clean the outside of our houses very often, but washing clothes is always with us. After a tentative start, self-cleaning fabrics are popping up all over. It began with Nano-Care.

Nano-Care is a finish applied to fabrics developed by inventor and entrepreneur David Soane, now made by his company Nano-Tex. Think of the fuzz on a peach; put the peach under the tap, and you will see the Nano-Care effect. Nano-Care’s “fuzz” is made of minuscule whiskers and is attached to the cotton threads. The whiskers are so small—less than a thousandth of the height of lotus bumps—that the cotton threads are like great tree trunks in comparison.

Nano-Tex’s rival is the Swiss firm Schoeller Textile AG, which calls its technology NanoSphere. The system has nanoscopic particles of silica or of a polymer on the clothing fibres and these particles provide the lotus like bumpy roughness.

Because many untested claims have been made to support nanotechnology products, standards institutions are beginning to set stringent tests for self-cleaning clothing that are based on these innovations.

In October 2005 the German Hohenstein Research Institute, which offers tests and certifications to trade and industry around the world, announced that NanoSphere textiles were the first of such fabrics to pass a whole range of tests, including those examining water repellence and the ability of the fabric to maintain its performance after ordinary wash cycles and other wear and tear. In a test of my own, samples of NanoSphere showed an impressive ability to shrug off oily tomato sauces, coffee and red wine stains—some of the worst of the usual suspects.

Easy-clean clothes are becoming widely available, but buyers of marquees, awnings and sails are expected to constitute the biggest market (in terms of money spent) for lotus effect finishes. No one really wants to have to clean these large outside structures.


The exploration of the lotus effect began as an attempt to understand the self-cleaning powers of one type of surface—waxy ones with microscopic or even nanoscale structures. This research has now broadened into an entire new science of wet ability, self-cleaning and disinfection.

 Researchers realized that there might be many ways to make super hydrophobic surfaces and that super-hydrophobicity reverse—super-hydrophobicity—might also be interesting. The leading player in super-hydrophobicity is the mineral titanium dioxide, or Titania.

Titania’s journey to stardom began more than four decades ago with a property that has nothing to do with wet ability.

In 1967 Akira Fujishima, then a graduate student at the University of Tokyo, discovered that when exposed to ultraviolet light, Titania could split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The splitting of water powered by light, or photolysis, has long been something of a holy grail because if it could be made to work efficiently, it could generate hydrogen cheaply enough to make that gas a viable, carbon-free substitute for fossil fuels. Fujishima and other researchers pursued the idea vigorously, but eventually they realized that achieving a commercial yield was a very distant prospect.

The studies did reveal that thin films of Titania (in the range of nanometres to microns thick) work more efficiently than do larger particles. And, in 1990, after Fujishima teamed up with Kazuhito Hashimoto of the University of Tokyo and Toshiya Watanabe of the sanitary equipment manufacturer TOTO, he and his colleagues discovered that nanoscale thin films of titania activated by ultraviolet light have a photo catalytic effect, breaking down organic compounds—including those in the cell walls of bacteria—to carbon dioxide and water.

Titania is photo catalytic because it is a semiconductor, meaning that a moderate amount of energy is needed to lift an electron from the mineral’s so-called valence band of filled energy levels across what is known as a band gap (composed of forbidden energy levels) into the empty “conduction band,” where electrons can flow and carry a current.

In titanic’s case, a photon of ultraviolet light with a wavelength of about 388 nanometres can do the trick, and in the process it produces two mobile charges: the electron that it hoists to the conduction band as well as the hole that is left behind in the valence band, which behaves much like a positively charged particle. While these two charges are on the loose, they can interact with water and oxygen at the surface of the titania, producing superoxide radical anions (O2–) and hydroxyl radicals (OH)—highly reactive chemical species that can then convert organic compounds to carbon dioxide and water.

In the mid-1990s the three Japanese researchers made another crucial discovery about Titania when they prepared a thin film from an aqueous suspension of Titania particles and annealed it at 500 degrees Celsius. After the scientists exposed the resulting transparent coating to ultraviolet light, it had the extraordinary property of complete wet ability—a contact angle of zero degrees—for both oil and water.

The ultraviolet light had removed some of the oxygen atoms from the surface of the Titania, resulting in a patchwork of nanoscale domains where hydroxyl groups became adsorbed, which produced the super-hydrophobicity. The areas not in those domains were responsible for the great affinity for oil. The effect remained for several days after the ultraviolet exposure, but the Titania slowly reverted to its original state the longer it was kept in the dark.

Although it is the very opposite of the lotus leaf’s repulsion of water, Titania’s super-hydrophobicity turns out also to be good for self-cleaning: the water tends to spread across the whole surface, forming a sheet that can carry away dirt as it flows. The surface also resists fogging, because condensing water spreads out instead of becoming the thousands of tiny droplets that constitute a fog. The photo catalytic action of Titania adds deodorizing and disinfection to the self-cleaning ability of coated items by breaking down organics and killing bacteria.

The titania-coating industry is now burgeoning. TOTO, for instance, produces a range of photo catalytic self-cleaning products, such as outdoor ceramic tiles, and it licenses the technology worldwide.

Because nanocoating of Titania is transparent, treated window glass was an obvious development. In 2001 Activ Glass, developed by Pilkington, the largest glass manufacturer in the U.K., became the first to hit the market. In general, glass is formed at about 1,600 degrees C on a bed of molten tin.

To make Activ Glass, titanium tetrachloride vapour is passed over the glass at a later cooling stage, depositing a layer of Titania finer than 20 nanometres thick. Activ Glass is fast becoming the glass of choice for conservatory roofs and vehicles’ side mirrors in the U.K.

Unfortunately, ordinary window glass blocks the ultraviolet wavelengths that drive Titania’s photo catalytic activity, so titania nano layers are less useful indoors than out. The answer is to “dope” the Titania with other substances, just as silicon and other semiconductors are doped for electronics. Doping can decrease the material’s band gap, which means that the somewhat longer wavelengths of indoor lighting can activate photo catalysis.

In 1985 Shinri Sato of Hokkaido University in Japan serendipitously discovered the benefit of doping Titania with nitrogen. Silver can also be used to dope the Titania. Only in recent years, however, have these approaches been translated into commercial processes.

The antibacterial and deodorizing properties of doped Titania are expected to have wide applications in kitchens and bathrooms. Titania is also being used in self-cleaning textiles and offers the advantage of removing odours. Various techniques have been devised to attach it to fabrics, including via direct chemical bonds.

Convergence of Opposites

The lotus-inspired materials and the titania-based thin films can be seen as opposite extremes rarely found in our everyday world where, as English poet Philip Larkin said, “nothing’s made / as new or washed quite clean.” For a long time, the techniques and materials were entirely different, and studies of the super hydrophobic effect and photo catalytic super-hydrophobicity were totally separate.

More recently, a remarkable convergence has occurred, with investigators working on combining the two effects and on producing both of them with very similar materials. Researchers are even exploring ways to get the same structure to switch from being super hydrophobic to being super hydrophilic, and vice versa.

An early hint of the convergence came in 2000 from Titania pioneers Fujishima, Watanabe and Hashimoto. They wanted to use Titania to extend the life of lotus effect surfaces. At first blush, this approach sounds destined for failure: Titania’s photo catalytic activity would be expected to attack the hydrophobic, waxy coatings of lotus surfaces and destroy the effect. And indeed, such attacks do happen with large concentrations of Titania.

But the group found that adding just a tiny amount of Titania could significantly prolong lotus effect activity without greatly changing the high contact angle needed for the strong repellence.

In 2003 Rubner and Cohen’s laboratory at M.I.T. discovered how a minor change in construction could determine whether a super hydrophobic or super hydrophilic surface was produced. During a visit to China that year, Rubner recalls, he “got excited about some super hydrophobic structures” that were mentioned at a meeting. On his return, he directed some of his group’s members to attempt to make such structures.

His lab had developed a layer-by-layer technique for making thin films out of a class of compounds called polyelectrolytes. Ordinary electrolytes are substances that when dissolved in water split up into positively and negatively charged ions; common salt or sulphuric acid would be examples.

Polyelectrolytes are organic polymers, plastic materials that, unlike most polymers, carry charge, either positive or negative. Rubner and Cohen stacked up alternating layers of positively charged poly (allylamine hydrochloride) and negatively charged silica particles. (In earlier work they had used coatings with silica particles to mimic the lotus’s rough hydrophobic surface.)

To these multilayers’, they added a final coating of silicone (a hydrophobic material), but along the way they noticed something intriguing: before they applied the silicone, the layer cake was actually super hydrophilic. In Rubner and Cohen’s experiments, the silica layers had created a vast warren of nanopores, forming a sponge that soaked up any surface water instantly, a phenomenon called nanowicking.

The silica-polymer multilayer’s they developed will not fog even if held over steaming water. If the pores get saturated, water starts running off the edge. When the wet conditions abate, the water in the nanowicks slowly evaporates away.

Because glass itself is mostly silica, the multilayers are well suited for application to glass. The super hydrophilic coatings are not only transparent and antifogging but are also antireflective. Rubner’s team is working with industrial partners to commercialize the discovery. Applications of this work include bathroom mirrors that never fog and car windshields that never need a blower on cold, wet winter mornings. Unlike Titania, Rubner’s surfaces work equally well in the light or dark.

Smart Beetles

Millions of years before scientists put together the lotus effect and super wet ability for technological applications, a small beetle of the Namib Desert in southern Africa was busy applying the two effects to another end: collecting water for its own survival.

The Namib Desert is extremely inhospitable. The daytime temperatures can reach 50 degrees C (about 120 degrees Fahrenheit), and rain is very scarce. About the only source of moisture are thick morning fogs, typically driven by a stiff breeze. The beetle, Stenocara sp., has developed a way to harvest the water in those mists: it squats with its head down and it’s back up, facing the foggy wind. Water condenses on its back and trickles down into its mouth. The scientific rationale behind the Stenocara beetle’s technique has inspired ideas for water-collecting technology in arid regions.

As so often happens, the beetle’s mechanism was discovered by a researcher looking for something else. In 2001 zoologist Andrew R. Parker, then at the University of Oxford, came across a photograph of beetles eating a locust in the Namib Desert. The locust, which had been blown there by the region’s strong winds, would have perished from the heat as soon as it hit the sand. Yet the beetles feasting on this literal windfall were obviously comfortable. Parker guessed that they must have sophisticated heat-reflection surfaces.

Indeed, Stenocara beetles do reflect heat, but when Parker examined their backs, he immediately suspected that some adaptation of the lotus effect was at work in their morning water-collection process. Most of the back of a Stenocara beetle is a bumpy, waxy, super hydrophobic surface. The tops of the bumps, though, are free of wax and are hydrophilic. Those hydrophilic spots capture water from the fog, forming droplets that quickly grow large enough for gravity and the surrounding super hydrophobic area to dislodge them. In lab experiments with glass slides, Parker found that this arrangement of regions is about twice as efficient as a smooth, uniform surface, regardless of whether it is hydrophilic or hydrophobic.

Parker has patented a design to imitate the beetle’s process, and the U.K. defence contractor QinetiQ is developing it for fog harvesting in arid regions. Others are also trying to mimic Stenocara. In 2006 Rubner and Cohen’s team created super hydrophilic spots of silica on super*hydrophobic multilayer’s. This is one better than the beetles, whose spots are merely hydrophilic.

The new science of super-hydrophilic ( wet ability), as exemplified by the artificial Stenocara surfaces, makes it possible to control liquid flows at the micro scale and the nanoscale, for use in applications that go well beyond that of keeping a surface clean. Rubner says: “Once you realize that textured surfaces can be either super hydrophobic or super hydrophilic depending on the top’s surface chemistry, all sorts of possibilities open up.” Of particular use would be switchable surfaces—ones whose wet ability can be reversed at precise locations.

Such tenability might be achieved by many means: ultraviolet light, electricity, temperature, solvent and acidity. In 2006 a team led by Kilwon Cho of Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea achieved complete switch ability by adding a compound based on the molecule azobenzene to the silicon zed (super hydrophobic) surface of a silica-polyelectrolyte multilayer. The new surface is also super*hydrophobic, but under ultraviolet light the azobenzene compound changes configuration and converts it to super hydrophilic.

Visible light reverses the change. This kind of control could have major applications in the field of micro fluidics, such as the microarrays now used for drug screening and other biochemical tests

Staying Dry Underwater

It is one of the pleasant surprises of the 21st century that the radiance of the lotus is penetrating into previously unknown nooks and crannies, as well as beyond self-cleaning applications.

Barthlott, who saw the potential in a drop of water on a lotus leaf, now sees almost limitless vistas. But he warns those who want to translate from nature to technology that they are likely to encounter great scepticism, as he did. “Do trust your own eyes and not the textbooks, and if your observation is repeatedly confirmed, publish it,” he advises. “But take a deep breath—expect rejections of your manuscript.”

He is, not surprisingly, a passionate advocate for biodiversity, pointing out that many other plants and animals may have useful properties—possibly including species unknown to science and in danger of extinction. His current research involves super-hydrophobicity underwater.

After studying how plants such as the water lettuce Pistia and the floating fern Salvinia trap air on their leaf surfaces, Barthlott created fabrics that stay dry underwater for four days. An un-wettable swimsuit is in prospect. The big prize would be to reduce the drag on ships’ hulls. The lotus collects no dirt, but it is garnering an impressive string of patents

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Proper Finished Leather Cleaning and Care

Section through finished leather - Diagram by Advanced Leather Solutions

Proper Finished Leather Cleaning and Care

Leather care has always been a highly controversial subject.  The main reason for this is due to the lack of advancements in the chemistry of products.  The vast majority consist of outdated products and techniques that were used 25 years ago.  These products were the only chemicals and methods available during that time period and were derived from products used in other industries and applications. 

 This creates a great deal of confusion for the consumer.  Many of the products sold are produced solely from the standpoint of making a sale.  This has established a poor reputation within the industry, and causes many people to conclude that it’s a waste of time and money since these products do not work as expected. 
Over the five decades I've been involved with detailing the materials and production methods that are used for automotive leather upholstery have changed; and we need to adapt our product usage and application methodologies to change with them

My best advise; research other options and products, test them and then make an objective decision based upon factual information, not hype or brand loyalty. After all, how can you fully understand and properly use any product unless you have all the facts? I would also strongly suggest that you verify any information that I or anyone else shares with you.

Correct information regarding the care of leather is scarce, often contradictory, misleading, or simply wrong. Misinformation can lead to inadvertent damage to your vehicles leather upholstery; my goal is to present clear, concise, accurate information.

There is a great deal of conflicting information on leather care  being put out by leather experts themselves who recommend the same products and techniques be used regardless of the leathers finish or use baffling pseudo scientific techno speak as another marketing ploy, Furniture, Motorcycle, Equestrian and Automobile leather are all different type of leather finishes and require different care. You do need to understand some of the basic chemistry behind the tanning and be able to differentiate between the various finishes applied to automotive leather in able to understand how to renovate, clean or care for them, one size fits all is a vendor myth

All of which makes it difficult to find a definitive, unbiased answer. Using the correct product is important in order to protect your car’s interior. If you keep your cars’ interior clean, you can easily save your car for a good couple of years and it can stay in a ‘like-new’ condition, and maintain a better re-sale value. Cleanliness is one of the major things buyers look for when purchasing a vehicle. There are several finished leather upholstery cleaners available, which need to be used in accordance to the type of finished leather used in for your vehicles upholstery.

That is why it is imperative, that if you are concerned about the results you wish to achieve, you must perform a bit of research into finding the products suitable for your requirements.

After various meetings and discussions with leather tanners, their research and development teams, chemists and fat liquoring formulators and many leather care product manufacturers I've gained an understanding of this versatile material on both a practical and scientific level.

It had always confounded me that such a simple subject has been made into something so complicated. I have always thought that the more facts and information you have at hand the easier it is to judge what information you are being given. After all, how can you fully understand and properly use any product unless you have all the facts? In the final analysis; it’s your vehicle, your hard earned money and your choice

Materials Technology

Automotive OEM technology is becoming more and more complex requiring educated and skilled technicians to work on them. As the materials used are constantly changing we must maintain our knowledge base and utilize the correct products and application methodologies to keep up with emerging technologies.

Automobile manufacturers have blurred the distinguishing lines on what exactly leather is. There are many so-called ‘leathers’ that are actually the bottom split (the fibrous part of the hide) which are covered with a vinyl or urethane coating.

Diagnosis is the key, not guess work. Before deciding on what products to use, you need to ascertain the grade of leather and the type of leather finish applied.

Automotive leather and finished leather surfaces have undergone major technological improvements over the past decade. The leather used for automotive upholstery is finished leather; the ‘finish’ applied to the leather hide is a pigmented (colour) urethane protective layer and a clear abrasion resistant topcoat.

This type of leather has an aqueous (water- based) urethane pigmented (coloured) coating, think of it as a urethane paint  applied on top of the leather, and then a clear top coat is applied, o you are not actually touching the leather. The coating gives the leather more durability and protection. It is also much easier to clean. Finished leathers make up almost all auto leathers. Just because leather has a top coat doesn't mean it is any less desirable.

Be cognizant that the leather and finishes used for automotive upholstery varies from leather industry standard descriptions and although the names are similar the type of leather, pigmentation and finish are often very different.  So it is very important to be able to recognise the various finishes and materials used by OEM’s as they all require different methodologies and products for proper care and maintenance.
One size fits all' is a vendor propagated myth. If it’s good enough for Rolls Royce and Ferrari leather it must be good enough for my vehicles upholstery too - nothing could be further from the truth.

Automobile model ranges use different materials for their vehicles interiors; leather upholstery like Aniline Immersion Dyed, Aniline Micro Pigmented, (Urethane) Finished, Artificial leather such as MB-Tex and unfinished materials like Synthetics and Alcantara, and sometimes combinations of products (Alcantara seat inserts on leather seating) as well as various grades of leather hide, full-grain, top-grain and split –grain (which is protected with urethane) all of which require different products and applications methods

Leather Tanning Process

All cowhides are naturally oily, unfortunately, these natural oils are stripped away in the tanning process, which is the process that renders the hide invulnerable to decay and some equivalent oils must be re-introduced after tanning. This last tanning step, the replacement of oils, is called "fat liquoring." Over the centuries, a number of oils have been found that have a natural affinity for leather fibres.

Every leather tanner has his own, unique, blend of tanning oils. These formulas are closely held secrets, passed down through generations; they are neither volatile nor migratory, this is the origin of the new car ‘leather smell’. This is one reason why one company's leather can have a totally different feel, fragrance, texture and softness from another company's product (See article “Fat Liquoring”)

Leather Hides
Raw hides have four main parts - an epidermis, grain, corium and flesh
Two of these layers, the epidermis (which is a thin protective layer of cells during the life of an animal) and the flesh are removed during tanning by a process called liming.

This leaves just the grain and the corium, the parts that are used for automotive leather upholstery .The grain layer is made of collagen and elastin protein fibres and its structure varies quite a bit depending on the age, breed and lifestyle of the animal. The grain carries many distinctive marks such as insect bites, growth marks and wound scars giving the leather a unique appearance.

The corium is packed with collagen protein fibres, arranged in larger bundles and interwoven to give the structure great strength, excellent elasticity and durability. In the tanning process these fibres and impregnated with collagens that are designed to hold them together and keep them supple. Much of the suppleness of leather comes from its moisture content. After tanning the skin is protected with a thin pigmented (colour) urethane and then a clear topcoat.
The thickness of the corium increases with age which is why calfskins are thinner, smoother and softer than the hides of mature animals. Hides from cows are smoother, thinner and softer than the hides of mature male bull hides which are thick, tough, course grained and very strong.

When corium fibres lose moisture they shrink, when they are hydrated with water moisture they swell. The best way to care for finished leather and to keep wrinkles to a minimum is to keep the leather properly hydrated and avoid, as much as possible, these shrinking and swelling cycles. Keeping leather hydrated only requires a regular wipe down with a damp cotton towel

Proper surface care
Is all about knowing the properties of the surface you want to treat and what product contains the correct formulation of ingredients best suited for that surface.

Leather finishes are a very chemically complex material, and if the product is incompatible with it in any way, it can exert a damaging effect: finish peeling, finish cracking, colour transfer ("crocking"), yellowing, and general degradation are some of the problems that can be caused by the application of an improperly formulated, incompatible leather treatment product.

The urethane used for finished leather is classified as a semi-solid, micro structured membrane, therefore it is not sealed per se, being a polymer (elastomers) it remains flexible while retaining its tensile strength, to enable it to expand and contract to follow temperature fluctuations (elongation) of the substrate. It also has micro-pores that allow transpiration (evaporation and hydration) which is the the passage of water vapour through a membrane or micro pore, they are not sealed per se.
Automobile Interior Environment
The interior environment of an automobile can be extremely demanding on any material used. Temperatures range from hot dry summer days, to freezing nights.
Both high and low humidity, even air conditioning that cools, but also dries. Leather's greatest enemies are; sun, heat, body oils, perspiration (that contains urea as well as organic salts and acids) and body heat, which causes acids to become more aggressive and alters the viscosity of oils, allowing them to permeate the leathers finish, and ultra violet radiation (UV), which dries the hide, fades the colour by bleaching, and can cause the leather to fail by drying out the fibres causing the urethane and / or the hide to crack.

Vehicle upholstery leather must allow hydration (transpiration and evaporation of moisture); otherwise it will become less supple and the finish will be subject to cracking.  Hydration is simply the replacement of moisture and can be introduced via any perforated areas or places where the leather is joined together with stitching. These punctures in the surface coating are natural release areas where the leather begins to lose its moisture, especially in hot / dry environments

Finished Leather
There is a great deal of conflicting information on leather care being put out by leather experts themselves who use baffling pseudo scientific techno speak as another marketing ploy, which makes it difficult to find a definitive, unbiased answer. Here is one definitive truth –you are dealing with the leathers finish, not the hide itself.

The use of oils, replacement of fat liquor, oil-based conditioning, proteins or the adjustment of pH levels is totally unnecessary; the surface is a urethane that contains pigmentation (colour) it neither needs or benefits from any of the above. (See the article “Leather Upholstery Type Surface Identification”)

Most leather surfaces in high-end vehicles such as Porsche, Ferrari, Bentley, Lamborghini, etc. require much different care than on other vehicles that are main stream.
The quality of the leather these vehicles are much finer and using harsh chemical to clean the leather will prematurely wear the leather. Wearing down protective UV coating, pulling out dye from the hide, and attracting more dirt due to oils in the product, are just a few symptoms of using inferior products not intended for this grade of leather.
Unless a Premium Leather option was purchased finished leather upholstery is used by 95% as OEM in modern (post ’95) automobiles and virtually 100% of leather upholstery in American and Asian-manufactured vehicles. Coated leather is a product where a urethane surface coating is applied to the leather substrate.
Urethane doesn’t require conditioning or rejuvenation
What is meant by ‘finished leather?’
Finished leathers make up almost all auto leather upholstery. It comprises a multi stratum acrylic and polyurethane resin binder system covering over the leather hide; the top strata are the surface pigmentation (colour) and an abrasion resistant urethane is used to improve flexibility, fastness and adhesion to the leather and then a top coat is applied for protection (just like auto paint where a clear coat is applied to protect the colour coat).

This type of finish has an aqueous (water- based) resilient, clear thermoplastic urethane pigmented (coloured) coating. Think of it as urethane paint applied on top of the leather, and then a clear top coat is applied. The coating gives the leather more durability and protection. It is also much easier to clean.
Isocyanate based ethyl carbamate CO (NH2) OC2H5 is a thermoplastic polyurethane film that is impregnated with plasticizers; they generally remain supple for quite a long time. When the plasticizers eventually migrate into the atmosphere, there is nothing that can be done to re-soften these materials. This type of finish is used for automobile finished leather upholstery and is used by 95% as OEM in modern (post 1995) automobiles. It comprises a multi stratum acrylic and polyurethane resin binder system covering over the leather hide; the top strata are the surface pigmentation (colour) and an abrasion resistant urethane is used to improve flexibility, fastness and adhesion to the leather.

Two or three aqueous (water- based) pigmented base coat are applied, and then finally a clear aqueous (water- based) top coat is applied as the final stage of the finishing process, which usually includes additives to give it a soft feel (patina) and abrasion resistance, as well as a limited amount of ‘slide’ to assist in entering and exiting the vehicle 
 It also has micro-pores that allow evaporation and hydration (the passage of water vapour through a membrane or pore) they are not sealed per se. Oils are not compatible with water-based pigmented urethane coatings and their molecules are too large to permeate, so they remain on the surface to be removed by clothing

Water vapour easily penetrates both non-coated and finished leather, which causes the collagen fibres (fibres) to swell. This makes leather very soft, but be cognizant that it will become highly prone to abrasion damage; it would be prudent to use a cleaner that contains a surfactant that emulsifies contaminants to minimize the need for abrasion.

Real leather has a recognizable fragrance that is missing from polyurethane protected finished leather. Simple cleaning and protection steps that will prolong the life of finished leather; urethane doesn’t require conditioning or rejuvenation

Modern tanning and coating processes leave leather dynamic and self-regulating with regard to the moisture content therein. Repetitive heat cycling causes the leather to lose moisture, resulting in the formation of creasing or surface cracks, which further leads to the leather shrinking; however the urethane remains stable, which may lead to delamination,

Surface Protection
A leather protection product is essential as it will protect the surface finish and makes dirt easier to clean off. The latest technology leather upholstery does not make the interior "maintenance free," as some car dealerships imply.

It does however extend the life of leather interiors, significantly reduces wear on leather bolsters, seams, stitching etc at entry/exit points in the vehicle. With leather, it is much easier to practice prevention than it is to try to resolve major challenges after the fact

Protection is an essential element in leather care, inhibiting abrasive dirt / grit, brought in from the outside via the A/C system and stains from being absorbed. This water-based product is made for protecting leather much like wax protects paint; by being a sacrificial barrier to contamination and potential damage. Its primary purpose is to act as sacrificial barrier between the leather surface and any soils that may settle on it, making maintenance cleaning easier.

Proper Leather Care

Basic 3- Step Leather Care
1.      Clean
2.      Hydrated
3.      Protected

Many of the following statements are controversial and disagree with popular leather care practices.
I've found that some leather care myths are deliberately perpetuated by the industry, especially those on the use of oil based leather conditioners and others are just common errors of judgment. Here is the inside story that the manufacturers of leather care products don't want you to know.

While popularity can sometimes be a reliable barometer, it isn't always the correct choice for choosing leather care products. Some even make their decision based on new car’s leather fragrance alone.
 My best advise; research other options and products, test them and then make an objective decision based upon factual information, not hype or brand loyalty.

The most important consideration in leather care is to identify the finish of leather used. Once you've correctly identified the leather and / or the applied finish applicable to your vehicle's upholstery, it’s easier to select suitable products / methods (one size fits all is just a vendor's marketing myth)

First you need to identify the material and finishes used; Aniline dyed  or Pigmented, Protected or Coated, Alcantara®, Synthetic or Vinyl; BMW and Mercedes Benz  use all of these leather finishes for their model range and in some instances a combination. Different types of leather require specific cleaning and care and therefore require a slightly different process.

Using an incorrect product could damage the finish; check your 'leather type' before attempting to clean or apply any products to its surface.

Finish leather Cleaning / Care
Identifying characteristics - this type of surface; it will also have an even shine.
The water-drop absorbency test- water drops will ‘bead’ on the surface
Absorbency rate –Extremely low

Most all purpose cleaners (APC) contain caustic soda or caustic potash, theses chemicals are also used in paint removers, so at high enough concentration, they will damage uncoated or finished leather. It would be diligent to use products specifically formulated to treat finished leather that contain special cleaners that remove oxidation, grime and acidic body oils, while maintaining the flexibility of the finish so that it remains supple, not dry and brittle.
(a) Clean - with coated leather, you are mainly dealing with urethane or similar top coat. This protective layer makes your leather seats more resilient to scratches, water and heat damage as well as other types of wear and tear, so, once that layer is worn thin, your seats are more susceptible to all types of damage. As dirt / grit and subsequent friction cause the finish to wear, oil combines with little bits of dust and dirt, acting like a fine sand paper that wears down the protective coating on your seats as you and your passengers get in and out of the vehicle. 

It’s prudent to use a surfactant system that emulsifies contaminants to minimize the need for abrasion. As we see it more clearly on a clear coat finish, abrasion will leave micro marring in the coating which creates more surface area for contaminants to bond with.

Use aqueous (water- based) foam cleaner (Leather Master™ Foam Cleaner) especially on aniline or ventilated seats. Foam encapsulates the dirt so that it can then be wiped away; allow the foam to dwell to ensure the chemicals have time to work. For ingrained soil the best results when cleaning the leather is to use a medium soft bristled brush to agitate the cleaner, this ensures a thorough cleaning.

Avoid the use of abrasive cleaners or all purpose cleaners (APC) as they may compromise the leathers urethane finish
Maintenance Cleaning - Leather Master™ Cleaner Wipes - cleans most common dirt and stains. Soft Cleaner contains a delicate detergent that can be used on your leather whatever its finish; suitable for all types of leather except Nubuck and Alcantara.

Perforated leather seating surfaces – for heated seats it’s important not to allow too much moisture to permeate the surface. Using a Swisswax (or similar) detailing brush and a diluted solution of Leather Master™ Strong Cleaner (dependant on how soiled the surfaces are) in a spray bottle ( spraying the  brush, not the seating surfaces)  using a light spray of the solution,  brush using moderate pressure in a circular motion and then wipe with a damp micro fibre towel.
Removal of accumulated soiling and layers of aged products –usually causes a shiny surface, the accumulation of dirt and old care products that become abrasive when mixed and polishes  the leather each time a person slides across the seating surface. 

To restore the surface to its original matte finish; clean finished leather surfaces using Iz einszett 'Plastik-Reiniger' an intensive, non-corrosive, non-acidic two-phase deep cleaner for urethane covered upholstery or Leather Master™ Strong Cleaner or Optimum Power Clean ™ for aniline leather, which can be diluted with distilled water to the required strength; do not apply any liquid cleaning product directly to the surface of finished leather, as it may ‘spot’ clean, leaving a lighter colour.

Apply cleaning products to a folded 100% cotton towel and then apply to the surface using light / medium pressure. Use a medium hard brush to permeate the grain, stitching and seams.

Removal of grease stains use - Leather Masters™ Leather Degreaser (check for colour fastness) this aerosol product is ideal for cleaning this type of stain as it dissolves the oils and transforms them into a powder that is more absorbent than the leather. This powder is what is wiped off, cleaning and degreasing the leather. Allow the white powder to dry fully. If the powder is drying to a yellow colour, it means that there are still a lot of oils in the leather.

Using a Medium / hard horse hair brush, or a soft sponge, spray and work the cleaner into a foam, lightly scrub surface and immediately wipe with a terry towel to remove excess moisture, especially around stitching (you may need to repeat this process).

Removal of Paint stains - emulsion (latex) paint is relatively easy to remove by using a steam cleaner to emulsify the paint, it can then be wiped away.

Oil-based paint contains solvents, which allow it to ‘key’ to the surface
·         Do not rub or use pressure on the affected area. Pat with a dry rag to gently wipe the paint away if the stain is very fresh.
·         Try to loosen the paint with a warm water compress using a 100% cotton micro fibre towel. This should soften the paint and loosen its grip on the leather so that you can gently peel it away.
·         Clear away any excess paint by abrading  the surface of dried paint with a plastic (ScrapeRite blades) or single-sided razor blade

·         Do not use paint thinner as it will cause the paint to migrate and ‘bleed’ producing a larger stain
a)      Use Leather Master™ Strong Cleaner with a 100% cotton micro fibre towel to wipe the paint off the affected area. Use a 100% cotton micro fibre towel soaked in distilled water to remove the soap. Pad gently with a dry 100% cotton micro fibre towel

b)      Or use a ‘safe’ solvent (Cliptone GT14 Safety Solvent Cleaner) on a clean 100% cotton micro fibre towel pat, this will break up the compounds of the paint, and make it easier to wipe off. Do not rub affected area otherwise it will thin out and may spread the paint.

·         Use Leather Master™ Soft Touch (ex Soft Vital) on a clean 100% cotton micro fibre towel, this is also recommended if the stain is fresh. Gently spread (do not rub or use pressure) the on the stain. Wait for a  few minutes, and then gently pad the spot lightly with a dry 100% cotton micro fibre towel

Grey Ultra Soft Upholstery Brush

For extremely soiled finished leather - use a Griot's 3- inch random orbital polisher and a random orbital brush attachment. Grey Ultra Soft Upholstery Brush - this brush is designed for delicate carpet and upholstery. Each bristle is split in to multiple fine tips (fits Porter Cable 7424, Griot's Random Orbital Polishers as well as the Cyclo, all have a 5/16", 24 thread shaft / spindle diameter.

The brush has a connector (5/16-inch UNF 24 thread) which screws directly into listed orbital polishers. To attach these brushes to your Porter Cable 7424 or Griot's Garage 6 Inch Random Orbital Polisher, remove the backing plate using the wrench included with the machines.

Screw the brushes into the machine and tighten thoroughly. Use with 1z einszett Vinyl Deep Cleaner (Plastik Reiniger) or Leather Master™ Strong Cleaner, using very little applied pressure. Apply product to a 100% cotton towel (do not apply direct to the surface as it may ‘spot’ clean) starting from the top of the seating surface work down. Using the orbital and the correct brush attachment, using little to no pressure at speed # 3-4, work the cleaner into the surface.

 Once surface is clean, use a clean, damp 100% cotton towel to remove residue (do not over wet surfaces)

                        (b) Hydration – s simply the replenishment of lost moisture, finished leather will absorb water vapour but it doesn't readily absorb liquid, so rain will not harm it and a damp cloth can be used to keep it clean. A leather hide consists of Water 60-65%, Protein 25-30% and Fats 5-10%. As water molecules are smaller than the ones used in the polyurethane top coats, so it can permeate the finish in vapour form. This is essential to restore the suppleness and maintain leathers natural flexibility and keeps the leather at its optimum physical performance level, along with softness and strength.

Repetitive heat cycling causes the leather to lose moisture, resulting in the formation of creasing or surface cracks, which may lead to the leather contracting; however the urethane remains stable, which may lead to it delaminating.

A regular wipe down with a damp towel on a regular basis is all you need to condition and / or hydrate finished leather, and  by using aqueous (water- based) products that do not contain oils and/or waxes, check the label if they do then don't use them. Leather should be hydrated on a regular basis and is somewhat climate dependent.

Monthly hydration of leather upholstery in most southern states; Florida, Texas and Arizona, and etc especially during the summer months, would not be out of line

            (c)  Patina (softness or hand) - used to ensure the finished leather remains soft and supple; Leather Master™ Soft Touch (ex Vital) - this is not a conditioner per se; it contains polymers in an aqueous emulsion and is used to improve and maintain the tactile feel and lustre by rehydration and to ensure the leather remains matte, soft and supple. It can also be used when doing repair work to help soften the area being worked on and to dilute some of the pigments, helping them to permeate.
Allow product to dry for approx one hour

Recommend usage 6-12 times a year or as required. Apply a small amount to dry 100% cotton micro fibre towel, allow product to remain for 20-30 minutes and then wipe surface with a dry 100% cotton micro fibre towel.

For revitalizing older leathers and also to improve the feel of stiff leathers it’s better to apply several thin layers than a heavy application and to gently massage it into the surface. It sometimes helps to apply a gentle heat (hair dryer, infra red lamp) to the surfaces, or by leaving the vehicle to benefit from the suns radiation for an hour or so

(d) Protection - is essential as it will protect the surface finish (Leather Master™ - Protection Cream) as a sacrificial layer; this way you are not actually cleaning the Leather's original surface, but cleaning from the surface of the protection. It also makes dirt easier to clean off and provides some ‘insurance against stains. This does not mean that cleaning becomes unnecessary, but it will be more effective and cleaning products can be less aggressive and still achieve good results.

Leather Protection will also work to remove small surface scratches on finished leathers. In general, Leather Protection Cream is used as a final step in combination with most of the Leather Master products.

Leather Master™ - Protection Cream (a Scotchgard™ type product specifically formulated for lather) the polymers penetrate the surface of finished leather and cross-link to form a durable protective film that is breathable, allowing transpiration and keeps the leather supple. Being aqueous (water- based) it restores moisture to finished leather and provides a protective sacrificial barrier against all kinds of soiling, water, oil, alcohol-based stains and perspiration marks, so you are cleaning the protective layer

Ultra violet (UV) protection - 303® Aerospace Protectant - is water based and will provide invaluable ultra violet (UV) radiation protection against photo degradation (fading) protection; especially in a roadster or convertible vehicles. It doesn’t contain silicones, so it won't attract and capture dust. You should apply to a clean surface (it contain only very minimal cleaning agents) 

It will not prevent finished leather hydration (transpiration and evaporation of moisture) as it’s water-based, although it coats the leather with a micro fine coating; it will not seal it per se.

Note: this product does NOT air dry.  Use a second dry cloth to finish the application process.  Extra buffing with at dry cloth increases bonding, repellency and durability

The hides used for automobile upholstery are treated with fat liquor and then sealed at the tannery. The only 'conditioning' required for finished leather upholstery is hydration; oil-based products cannot permeate the finish (urethane pigmentation or covering) that is used in 95% plus of modern automobiles, urethane doesn’t require conditioning or rejuvenation.

Modern automotive leather upholstery use a completely different tanning  processes and finishing system, utilizing advanced polymers and chemicals (urethane doesn’t require conditioning or rejuvenation) and as a consequence  they do not need to be treated with aftercare products containing oils or proteins. To their benefit, they can leave the urethane finished leather feeling nice and supple, but they cannot permeate and provide the necessary hydration

The ‘ perfect’ solution; is a water based formulation; water molecules are smaller than the ones used in the polyurethane top coats, so it can permeate through in vapour form, deep into the leather hide. Something that is essential to restore the suppleness and maintain leathers natural flexibility. And being water based also allows the leather surface to breathe; alleviating all the drying properties oils and other sealing products can create.
Oils and soft plastics (polymers, acrylics and urethanes) are not compatible; repeated application on to finished leather can cause the break-down of cross-linking and binding agents.

Oil accelerates the deterioration of urethane over time, along with abrasion that break down the binder system of the pigmented (polymer) coating and the leather will begin to deteriorate, so it is crucial to stop this from happening, which can be done with regular cleaning and a protection product applied to the surface.
If used on a regular basis they can damage the top coat of the leather. Most actually do the opposite of what they claim, by damaging the coating, and making it vulnerable to accelerated wear and even de-laminating. So it initially feels nice and soft on the outside, but it is being killed by the products permeating into the coating and disrupting the structure

As the materials used are constantly changing we must maintain our knowledge base and utilize the correct products and application methodologies to keep up with emerging technologies.
It is very important to be able to recognise the various finishes and materials used as they all require different methodologies and products for proper care and maintenance.

            Note: Apply all finished leather care products with a 100% cotton micro fibre towel

Leather pH
The pH value of leather is purely academic and of little, if any value with regard to its care. Leather is very different from fabric and its cleaning and care is very different, specific water-based products have been formulated, which have the correct pH values for the job they are designed for. If for some reason you consider using a non-specific leather care product ensure that its pH value is neither too acidic nor too alkaline

The key to maintaining the original look and feel of your car's leather interior is learning which type of leather finish you have and using the leather care product made for that type of leather. When you use the correct combination, maintenance is simple and you'll get to enjoy your leather for many years.

Always keep in mind that you’re dealing with the finished coating on the leather and not with the leather hide itself