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How microbial proteases improve bating in tanneries

Microbial enzymes deliver a mild and gentle bating process.  That helps tanneries break down residues of non-collagen protein while minimizing the risk of damage to the leather. 

Bating is the final process in the beamhouse. It makes leather soft and pliable by loosening the grain and increasing tensile strength. Glove leather is highly bated, while shoe sole leather isn't bated at all.  

The goal of bating is to remove residues of non-collagen protein and other interfibrillary material. Proteins consist of polypeptide chains of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. Proteases break down these bonds. In that way, proteases help remove the unwanted protein materials. This leaves the pelt clean, relaxed and open, ready for pickling/tanning operations.  

There are challenges associated with the bating process. Tanneries need to ensure bating doesn't damage the grain of the leather or cause holes. They also need to avoid making the leather loose or too thin. 

Traditionally, tanneries used trypsin, a protease extracted from animal pancreases. In recent years, microbial enzymes - produced through fermentation - have been gaining ground. These come from either fungal or bacterial sources.  They deliver a mild and gentle bating process with good scud loosening. The result is a clean, pale and uniform pelt​ with a fine and delicate grain. The final high-quality leather is soft and tight.  

Tanneries can add bating proteases to their standard bating operations. 

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