"Ultrasuede BX is the world’s first nonwoven material with a suede texture that uses plant-based polyurethane as a raw material, and Toray plans to market it as an environmentally friendly material that offers both high sensitivity and functionality in wide-ranging applications such as automotive interiors, fashion and upholstery. It aims for sales of ¥500 million ($4.5 million) from the product in fiscal year 2019 and ¥3 billion ($26 million) by 2024. A nonwoven material with a suede texture is manufactured by impregnating the three-dimensionally entangled structure of polyester ultra-fine fibers with polyurethane, coagulating it and buffing to form suede-like surface structure. Ultrasuede BX uses Polyester polymerized with Ethylene glycol made from waste molasses of sugarcane and polyurethane composed of Polyol made of castor oil from unedible castor-oil plant.
Before this technology was developed, polyurethane made of plant-based raw materials faced the technical issues on physical properties such as low durability and hand and could not be used for a nonwoven material with a suede texture. To solve these issues, Toray used its unique design technology from polymer to product structure and polyurethane coagulation technology and succeeded in development of the Ultrasuede BX" which has high levels of plant-based raw materials, superior feeling and functionality such as high durability, air-permeability and easy maintenance.
Since 1970, through continuous technological advancements, Ultrasuede has evolved as a highly functional material not only for fashion and interior designs, but also for automotive and aircraft interiors, sports gear and accessories for smartphones and mobile devices. Toray also has been focusing on development of environmentally friendly sustainable products and has been marketing Ultrasuede® PX, which uses partial plant-based polyester since 2016. The addition of Ultrasuede® BX to the brand’s product lineup further expands the company’s deployment of a non-woven material with a suede texture that realizes both sustainability and creation.