Image Number K7224-2
Leather-making is an ancient craft, but it's met up with some
state-of-the-art technology. Electron beam radiation, we've found, can replace
the salt solutions now used to kill bacterial growth-much to the benefit of the
environment. Not only is brine curing corrosive to equipment; it contributes to
We also found a way to reduce the number of poor-quality hides that make
their way into leather processing. Laser light-scattering photometry can be used
to evaluate hides according to the orientation of their fibers.
High-tech detective work has tracked down a cause of shoemaking woes. One
type of leather, which broke under the stress of manufacture, was found to have
a genetic defect that's specific to certain Hereford cattle.
It was ARS researchers who identified cockle, a seasonal flaw of sheepskin,
as the work of a parasitic insect called keds. Once they realized that keds not
only lowers the value of the skin but also causes sheep to grow more slowly,
sheep farmers began treating their herds to control infestations.
Photo by Scott Bauer.
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