Bicast leather (also known as bi-cast leather, bycast leather or PU leather, sometimes described as split leather) is a material made with a split leather backing covered with a layer of polyurethane (hence the term PU leather) that is applied to the surface and then embossed. Because it is only used for the backing, the leather portion of this material is generally not visible in finished goods made from Bicast. Bicast was originally made for the apparel industry for glossy shoes, and recently was adopted by the furniture industry. The resulting product has an artificially consistent texture that is easier to clean and maintain, as is the case with most plastic materials. When used for shoe-wear it cannot be considered equal to conventional leather as it lacks the strength, porosity, and durability of the natural product.
Production and features
The use of terms like "leather", "genuine leather" or "100% leather" in relation to this bicast treatment is considered a misrepresentation and therefore not permitted in some countries, e.g., Denmark and New Zealand. Furniture made with bicast exhibits none of the characteristics associated with aniline leather; it will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise "improve with age". With constant use the polyurethane layer may crack and split free of its backing, and abrasion may cause large unsightly marks.
Modern technology permits up to four stratified layers being taken from a single hide. The leather used in the backing of bicast is a thin layer, remaining after other layers have been removed for traditional leather work.
Furniture manufacturers say that the main benefit of bicast leather is its price. Lower grades of leather can be used during the manufacturing process, and treating with polyurethane gives a uniform shine and a long-lasting "like new" appearance. Bicast leather looks best, they say, on furniture with taut seat cushions and pillows. It can easily be cleaned with a damp cloth. New bicast leather furniture can have a slight chemical smell, but this typically dissipates about a week after the piece is exposed to air.
- "Commission reminds traders: Claims of 100% leave no room for ambiguity". Commerce Commission (New Zealand). 12 August 2004. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
- Gillan, Kevin (Last-Modified: Wed, 17 Feb 2010 05:42:15 GMT). "Consumer Tips and Alerts- Bicast leather". Advanced Leather Solutions. Retrieved 2010-03-24. Check date values in:
- Stevens, Richard (February 2006). "THE LEATHER CONTROVERSY "Split leather, "bi-cast leather", "corrected grain" LEATHER ADVICE & INFORMATION". Mainly Chairs. Retrieved 2010-03-24.[dead link]
- Gunin, Joan (2003-04-01). "Bycast: Leather's latest price-cutting move". Furniture Today. Furniture Today. Archived from the original on 11 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-24.