Boasting exclusive quality and a pleasantly soft texture, Benecke-Kaliko’s Acella® premium leatherette for automotive interiors can barely be distinguished from real leather, according to a statement issued by Continental. Thanks to its anti-aging and wear resistance properties, which are significantly better than those of real leather, a range of automotive manufacturers use it for the seating areas of passenger cars including taxis and government vehicles. In addition to being used on upholstery, the material is typically also found on instrument panels, door inserts, gear stick and hand brake cowling, and soft-trim headliners.
Acella® is several times more cost efficient than leather, but its clear advantages extend far beyond the price tag. Although generally thought of as a natural product, leather undergoes elaborate chemical processing. It is also difficult to maintain a consistent quality with it (grain, color, thickness, and density). This is where Benecke-Kaliko’s cover material has a clear-cut edge. It can be relied upon to combine uniform quality with the high-class look and feel of leather. This makes for a homogeneous surface design without any annoying irregularities. And while Benecke-Kaliko leather simulation technology creates the look and feel of a natural material, the company’s design expertise paves the way to virtually limitless opportunities for customization and state-of-the-art graining. The cost-effective decorative material is also available in two-tone and color printed designs.
“Our materials are expected to satisfy even greater requirements than those of real leather,” notes Sven Ullmann, Benecke-Kaliko’s area management for Asia. These requirements include resistance to wear & abrasion, scratch, chemicals, and cleaning materials as well as resistance to aging despite exposure to UV light, heat, and moisture. It also exhibits low flammability. Acella®’s temperature resistance is significantly higher than that of real leather, which tends to become brittle due to its temperature sensitivity. Acella® is not susceptible to excessive glossing during processing and does not grow brittle through use. It also exhibits high low-temperature flexibility, which is particularly important if the material is used in airbag systems. With the right combination of backing fabric and coating material, the production process can be tailored to achieve the desired mechanical, physical, and chemical properties.
Because similar additives are used to finish both real leather and Acella®, it can also be easily processed in combination with real leather without any unintended interactions. This makes it possible to use Acella® to create surfaces with an incredibly sophisticated, leather-like feel. The artificial leather can also be complemented with long-lasting anti-squeak additives, if required.
Another advantage is its processing flexibility. It can be back-molded or stitched. Acella® is easier to transport than leather and, unlike real leather, it can be cut with an automated laser cutter like textiles without creating enormous quantities of scrap thus saving almost 20 percent on processing cost. The width of the material is not restricted by the size of an animal hide. Plus, its high grain stability makes it possible to expose the decorative material to high temperatures or pressure during processing.
Real leather has incorrect perceptions of being breathable post processing, having a special leather odour in a neutral smelling car and having its own grains. Real leathers have a high processing cost as leather patterns need to be punched and foam needs to be stitched to these patterns followed by foam scrap removal. Because of its stiff nature, there is a difficulty in elimination of wrinkles in joints and stitch areas. Higher quantities of real leather are consumed to maintain the grain orientation in addition to wastage due to hide form limitations. Acella® can provide up to 80 percent cost savings against real leather seats.
Acella® boasts of its durable character, not to mention the usage of its high quality raw materials thus avoiding permanent odor, dust accumulation & tacky feeling in the cabin and tearing of the leatherette in service life. Acella® is used in all – A, B & C class areas of seats including insert, bolster, side and rear of all rows in passenger cars.
Designed Green: Acella® Eco
Acella® Eco boasts eco-friendly and healthy properties, to the benefit of both drivers and passengers. “Increasing emissions requirements have led to the development of odor and emissions-optimized materials,” reports Ullmann. In odor testing, the low-emissions Acella® Eco green material has shown itself to be significantly superior to conventional systems. “It also scores better than leather coated with tanning and finishing agents, since it does not contain these semi-volatile compounds,” adds Chintan Kanakia, Benecke-Kaliko’s country manager, citing another advantage that all Acella® products have as an alternative to real leather. Benecke-Kaliko also has a cover material – Acella® Eco natural in its portfolio – composed of up to over fifty percent of renewable raw materials and utilizing only 20% of petroleum based raw material as against 70% in standard constructions. At the customer’s request, applications for OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certification can also be made for both. Due to their nature, they have excellent haptics to make them feel better than real leather. Both the products are contact allergen free and made for permanent contact with human skin.
Any solvents and plasticizers that might release emissions are kept to an absolute minimum. In response to the respective customer demands, the resulting VOC (volatile organic compounds) values undercut the limits defined for seat applications by American and European OEMs. Acella® Eco green is already a standard feature in the new Volvo XC60, which the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association added to its list of hypoallergenic vehicles in late 2009. Unlike leather made from animal hides, the Acella® family – like all products from Benecke-Kaliko – can be used without violating any ethical and religious restrictions.