Alcantara is a covering material manufactured and marketed by Alcantara SpA. It is primarily used in the design, fashion, accessories, consumer electronics, automotive and marine industries.
The material was developed in the early 1970s by Miyoshi Okamoto, a scientist working for the Japanese chemical company Toray Industries. It was based on the same technology as another product from the same company named Ultrasuede. Around 1972, a joint venture between Italian chemical company ENI and Toray formed Alcantara SpA in order to manufacture and distribute the material. The company is now owned by Toray and Mitsui.
Alcantara is produced by combining an advanced spinning process (producing very low denier bi-component "islands in the sea" fibre) and chemical and textile production processes (needle punching, buffing, impregnation, extraction, finishing, dyeing, etc.) which interact with each other.
Alcantara is composed of about 68% polyester and 32% polyurethane, giving increased durability and stain resistance. The appearance and tactile feel of the material is similar to that of suede, and it may be incorrectly identified as such.
Alcantara has applications including furniture, clothing, jewellery, helmets and automotive (such as in seating, dash trimming and headliners in many high-end OEM automotive suppliers). Alcantara is being used currently as a flame retardant driver seat covering material for Formula One race cars, including the Williams Formula One 2011 FW33 car. It is also used in the ear pads material for the high-end, headphones Sennheiser HD800 and the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear as well as for Microsoft's new Alcantara Surface Pro 4 cover. Alcantara also is used in SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule.
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- "SpaceX on Instagram: “Crew Dragon can have up to seven seats, which are made from the highest-grade carbon fiber and Alcantara cloth.”". Instagram. Retrieved 2015-09-11.