Science & Nature
Sep 1, 2016
LEATHER MADE FROM A MUSHROOM
Leather is a material that doesn't disappoint. Its qualities make it suitable for an incredibly wide variety of personal items, from handbags, to shoes and wallets. If there was a new material, that was neither animal nor synthetic, but was nevertheless leather, and furthermore sustainable, it would probably have a lot of followers.
It this context comes a new non-toxic, non-synthetic, entirely natural material – Muskin. Muskin is sort of a leather made from mushrooms, specifically the Phellinus Ellipsoideus - a giant mushroom that grows at the base of large trees in Brazil. Using this mushroom helps the trees to survive, making it even more sustainable, besides also being totally biodegradable.
Tanning is a very polluting chemical process. However, Muskin is made using exclusively natural materials, and is non-toxic, even though the process is very similar to the one that is used in the animal leather tanning. The fact that it is non-toxic, makes it perfectly adequate for garments and pieces that are in direct contact with the skin, such as purses, gloves, and hats.
The manufacturing company, Grado Zero Espace (GZE), performed various tests in their research laboratory, and found that Muskin is as good as it seems: besides reducing the proliferation of bacteria, it has natural water repellent characteristics, and a strong absorbent capacity, which combined with the fact that it is really breathable, is impressive. Roughly, this means that the leather absorbs humidity, and then releases it slowly, making it perfect for producing shoe insoles, for example.
Muskin is a very pliable material, which gives it an incredible versatility, it is resistant to high temperatures, meaning it can also can be printed. It is very similar to animal leather in terms of appearance, but much softer. The production however, is currently limited to 4 to 5 m2/month, and the size varies approximately between 10-13cm by 15-20cm for smaller pieces, and 20-25cm by 35-40cm, for larger ones. It is available for sale at the Life Materials platform, at http://lifematerials.eu/en/.
Grado Zero Espace
The material was developed by Grado Zero Espace, an Italian company that serves as a connection between research and investigation companies, mainly to transfer technology from one sector to another. The objective is to act as the development aid of companies and projects that do not have the capacity to perform certain phases of a project. This company is able to work a complete project, that is, from concept to prototyping, and it furthermore researches and develops new materials.
Grado Zero Espace can collect know-hows, technologies, and be an innovator at the same time, investigating ways to re-use these know-hows and technologies in different sectors that those that originated them. They furthermore provide services in design, communication, consulting, prototyping, to engineering, and the creation of production processes.
GZe also has a "Research Bank", that works as a platform for ideas that still haven't found resources necessary in order to be realised, whether these are economic or human resources, among others.
When a company resorts to external research agencies such as Grado Zero Espace, it has the extra advantage of having access to a vast network of specialists in the needed areas to make the idealised product come true.
The company names their mission as the development and commercialization of new materials and technologies for industrial applications, by generating new and innovative projects directed at a better quality of life, work and environment.
The company's fields of action are mainly in new performing materials and technologies for furnishing, automotive, nautical, medical specialties, customized textile structures (especially yarn and fibres), dispersion of carbon nanotubes in polymers, fibres, fabrics, advanced textile structures, rapid prototyping (3D printing), industrial design consulting support, and Life Cycle Assessment analysis.
Grado Zero Espace srl - P.IVA 05226490489
Via nove, 2/A - 50056 Montelupo F.no, Firenze - Italy
Tel.: +39 0571 80368 - Fax: +39 1782 700167