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Synthetic vs. Natural; Which is Right For Your Product?

There’s no doubt as to why leather is the preferred material for clothing, accessories, and many automotive components. Real leather is durable and strong – it lasts longer and ages better than synthetics over time. It continues to feel and look great for years!

The catch is that leather is often expensive. When a customer came to the Midwest Rubber team requesting that we replace a cut-and-sewn natural leather shift boot application with a more cost-effective, simulated, or synthetic, leather shift boot, we were up for the challenge. Quality was key, as they were planning on using the finished product across multiple truck lines. It was important that the finished product maintained not only the look and feel of real leather, but had the same durability  features as well.

Midwest Rubber engineers used a process called slush molding to create a quality, leather-like shift boot. Slush molding is an excellent method of producing open, hollow objects. It is often used in the production of automotive products such as protective skin coatings on arm rests, head rests, and crash pads. The basic process involves exposing a hollow mold to heat and filling it with a vinyl compound. Once cooled, a completed part is removed. It’s a process that can be used for both small and large orders.

In the end product created by Midwest Rubber engineers, the recreation of the leather grain and stitching was so authentic that it fooled both the automotive reviewers and focus group participants!

During the first year of production, Midwest Rubber saved the customer over one million dollars, simply by switching to a high-quality simulated leather. It was also proven that the new shift boot reduced noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) over the leather boot. Model redesigns after the first year in production eliminated its use in two product lines, but the shift boot is still used in its most popular line, and has even been modified to fit a new transmission style!

Do you have a critical component you would like modified? Reach out the the Midwest Rubber team. We have a number of processes at our disposal, so we can always design the best product possible for you!

Midwest Rubber Co.