A significant portion of LASRA’s research activity is Government co-funded. Where the research outcomes are longer-term, and potentially of high value, but uncertain, or identified as of significant benefit to NZ exports, Government support takes some of the risk out of the research and supports fundamental studies to improve our understanding of processes and develop better ones.
As a Research Association, LASRA is closely aligned with the interests of one of New Zealand’s greatest value exporters, the hides and skins processing industry, which generates over $650M p.a. in foreign exchange (2013 Stats NZ figure).
Sustainable futures for NZ lamb skin exports in new high value markets
The LASRA® Ovine Consortium project (LSRX 0801) aims to construct a new, lightweight footwear, ovine (sheep), leather export platform supported by sustainable production systems for NZ ovine skins that will deliver greater revenues to farmers and skin processors within the country, counter market threats, and help sustain the NZ sheep industry. The goal is to generate additional export returns of $125 million per annum by 2017. The proposition is based on a transition from supplying the global garment leather market to supplying the more lucrative and more stable footwear market. Specific new performance qualities developed in the ovine skin will deliver high value attributes in the leather when coupled with novel strength enhanced properties developed from this research.
The LASRA® project (LSRX 0701) is now complete, and generated a range of smart, multi-functional, high performance leather processes. The research programme included the development of novel moisture management properties, tactile properties and thermal responsiveness to generate higher comfort in leather garments and footwear. It also included work on developing unique sanitising properties for foot health, ultra-chemical resistance for industrial footwear leather and embedded low-impact fire resistance for leathers used in aircraft seating.
High performance New Zealand hide and deerskin leathers
The work on LASRA® project LSRX 1301 combines raw material identification and process modifications, to both improve the quality of hides and deerskins to maximise the benefit to New Zealand from these quality raw materials, with the development of novel nano treatments to raise their market value and versatility. New measurement techniques to identify and allocate raw materials more effectively will be supported by basic research to better understand the cause of processing faults and assist with the development of processes which have a reduced impact on the raw material.