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  • Publications

UNIDO has prepared and published over one hundred publications, papers, manuals and guidelines, primarily aimed at technical experts and policy makers in developing countries, though many are used by sector-related institutions and development organizations elsewhere.

The website is intended to provide an easy access to information sources on the leather, footwear and leather products industry, as well as to UNIDO publications related to the leather sector in one place, including earlier publications that were previously only available in hard copy.

Primitive tools made of stones and bones were the first equipment used for removing unwanted substances (fat, meat, hair) from the cured/conservated (by minerals) animal hides in order to protect the human foot and the body. For thousands of years only pits, various hand tools and simple machines were used in processing leather and making derived products such as shoes, gloves, bags, belts, harness and upholstery. With the gilds manufacturing processes were split into distinct operations that facilitated the construction of mechanisms and machines to assist manual workers or later to replace them. Mechanization of leather processing and leather products production started with the industrial revolution and accelerated by the invention of electric engines. Tanneries making leather from raw animal hides/skins use today heavy moving vessels (paddles, drums, mixers), mechanical and hydraulic equipment became a capital intensive and energy consuming industry. Nevertheless, basic principles of leather processing has not changed, automation made a limited impact on this industry. Chrome tanning will probably dominate leather making in the next decades, more and more through feed types of machines will be applied, but solid and liquid waste recycling or disposal remains the major problem of this trade. In spite of introduction of new and productive technologies (CAD/CAM, injection moulding etc.) leather products manufacturing is still a labour intensive industry. Future development is expected from robotization, further computerization, use of biotechnology and artificial intelligence. Use of commodities made of leather (derived from animal hides/skins) will be influenced by tendencies in meat consumption (raw hides/skins are by-products of the meat industry), achievements of the material science (development of synthetic leather substitutes having the same or even better hygienic and wear properties as leather) and additive manufacturing (e.g. 3D printing.)