Spandex or elastane is a synthetic fibre known for its exceptional elasticity
Elasticity (physics)
In physics, elasticity is the physical property of a material that returns to its original shape after the stress that made it deform or distort is removed. The relative amount of deformation is called the strain....

. It is strong, but less durable than natural Latex
Latex is the stable dispersion of polymer microparticles in an aqueous medium. Latexes may be natural or synthetic.Latex as found in nature is a milky fluid found in 10% of all flowering plants . It is a complex emulsion consisting of proteins, alkaloids, starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins,...

, its major non-synthetic competitor. It is a polyurethane
A polyurethane is any polymer composed of a chain of organic units joined by carbamate links. Polyurethane polymers are formed through step-growth polymerization, by reacting a monomer with another monomer in the presence of a catalyst.Polyurethanes are...

Polyurea is a type of elastomer that is derived from the reaction product of an isocyanate component and a synthetic resin blend component through step-growth polymerization. The isocyanate can be aromatic or aliphatic in nature. It can be monomer, polymer, or any variant reaction of isocyanates,...

 copolymer that was co-invented in 1959 by chemists C. L. Sandquist and Joseph Shivers
Joseph Shivers
Joseph Clois Shivers, Jr. was an American chemist who lived in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Shivers spent much of the 1950s developing Spandex while working for DuPont. He was awarded the prestigious Olney Medal for Achievement in Textile Chemistry for his work.-External links:*...

 at DuPont
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company , commonly referred to as DuPont, is an American chemical company that was founded in July 1802 as a gunpowder mill by Eleuthère Irénée du Pont. DuPont was the world's third largest chemical company based on market capitalization and ninth based on revenue in 2009...

's Benger Laboratory in Waynesboro, Virginia
Waynesboro, Virginia
Waynesboro, deriving its name from General Anthony Wayne, is an independent city surrounded by Augusta County in the U.S. state of Virginia. The population was 21,006 in 2010.....

. When first introduced, it revolutionized many areas of the clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...


The name "spandex" is an anagram of the word "expands". It is the preferred name in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

; in many European countries it is referred to as "elastane", and is known in Britain mainly as LYCRA. Brand names for spandex include LYCRA (made by INVISTA
Invista, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, is the world's largest integrated fiber, resin and intermediates company. DuPont originally formed the company as a subsidiary in 2003 from its textile fibers division and named it DuPont Textiles and Interiors while a permanent identity was established...

, previously a part of DuPont),
ELASPAN (also INVISTA's), Creora (Hyosung
Hyosung Corporation is a Korean industrial conglomerate , founded in 1957. It operates in various fields, including the chemical industry, industrial machinery, IT, trade, and construction. It is known in Korea mostly for high-end apartments and automatic teller machines. Its CEO is S.R. Cho...

), ROICA and Dorlastan (Asahi Kasei
Asahi Kasei
is a Japanese company. The main products are chemicals and materials science. The company has around 25,000 employees and had consolidated sales of ¥ 1.7 trillion in 2008. It was founded in May 1931, using the paid in capital of Nobeoka Ammonia Fiber Co., Ltd, a Nobeoka, Miyazaki based producer of...

), Linel (Fillattice), and ESPA (Toyobo
is one of Japan's top makers of fibers and textiles, including synthetic fibers and natural fibers, such as cotton and wool. The company's textiles are designed for clothing, home furnishings, and for industrial uses. Its textiles include spandex yarn for apparel, polyurethane fiber for pantyhose,...


Spandex fibers production

Spandex fibers are produced in four different ways: melt extrusion, reaction spinning, solution dry spinning, and solution wet spinning. All of these methods include the initial step of reacting monomer
A monomer is an atom or a small molecule that may bind chemically to other monomers to form a polymer; the term "monomeric protein" may also be used to describe one of the proteins making up a multiprotein complex...

s to produce a prepolymer. Once the prepolymer is formed, it is reacted further in various ways and drawn out to make the fibers. The solution dry spinning method is used to produce over 94.5% of the world's spandex fibers.

Solution dry spinning

Step 1: The first step is to produce the prepolymer. This is done by mixing a macroglycol with a diisocyanate monomer. The two compounds are mixed together in a reaction vessel to produce a prepolymer. A typical ratio of glycol to diisocyanate is 1:2.

Step 2: The prepolymer is further reacted with an equal amount of diamine
A diamine is a type of polyamine with exactly two amino groups. Diamines are mainly used as monomers to prepare polyamides, polyimides and polyureas. In terms of quantities produced, 1,6-diaminohexane, a precursor to Nylon 6-6, is most important, followed by ethylenediamine...

. This reaction is known as chain extension reaction. The resulting solution is diluted with a solvent to produce the spinning solution. The solvent helps make the solution thinner and more easily handled, and then it can be pumped into the fibre production cell.

Step 3: The spinning solution is pumped into a cylindrical spinning cell where it is cured and converted into fibres. In this cell, the polymer solution is forced through a metal plate called a spinneret
Spinneret (polymers)
Spinneret refers to a multi-pored device through which a plastic polymer melt is extruded to form fibers. Streams of viscous polymer usually exit into cool air or liquid to solidify. The individual polymer chains tend to align in the fiber because of viscous flow. This airstream liquid-to-fiber...

. This causes the solution to be aligned in strands of liquid polymer. As the strands pass through the cell, they are heated in the presence of a nitrogen and solvent gas. This process causes the liquid polymer to react chemically and form solid strands.

Step 4: As the fibres exit the cell, an amount of solid strands are bundled together to produce the desired thickness. Each fibre of spandex is made up of many smaller individual fibres that adhere to one another due to the natural stickiness of their surface.

Step 5: The resulting fibres are then treated with a finishing agent which can be magnesium stearate
Magnesium stearate
Magnesium stearate, also called octadecanoic acid, magnesium salt, is a white substance which is solid at room temperature. It has the chemical formula . It is a salt containing two equivalents of stearate and one magnesium cation...

 or another polymer. This treatment prevents the fibres' sticking together and aids in textile manufacture. The fibres are then transferred through a series of rollers onto a spool.

Step 6: When the spools are filled with fibre, they are put into final packaging and shipped to textile manufacturers.

Major spandex fibre uses

  • Apparel and clothing articles where stretch is desired, generally for comfort and fit, such as:
    • athletic, aerobic, and exercise apparel
    • belts
      Belt (clothing)
      A belt is a flexible band or strap, typically made of leather or heavy cloth, and worn around the waist. A belt supports trousers or other articles of clothing.-History:...

    • bra
      A brassiere is an undergarment that covers, supports, and elevates the breasts. Since the late 19th century, it has replaced the corset as the most widely accepted method for supporting breasts....

       straps and side panels
    • competitive swimwear
      Competitive swimwear
      Competitive swimwear generally refers to the Swimsuit, apparel, equipment and accessories used in the aquatic sports of swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, triathlon and water polo.- Brands :Female Swimsuits*Racerback*Kneeskin*Bodyskin*LZR Racer...

    • dance belt
      Dance belt
      A dance belt is a kind of specialized undergarment commonly worn by male ballet dancers to support their genitals. Most are similar in design to thong underwear....

      s worn by male ballet dancers and others
    • diaper
      A nappy or a diaper is a kind of pant that allows one to defecate or urinate on oneself discreetly. When diapers become soiled, they require changing; this process is often performed by a second person such as a parent or caregiver...

    • disco jeans
    • gloves
    • hosiery
      Hosiery, also referred to as legwear, describes garments worn directly on the feet and legs. The term originated as the collective term for products of which a maker or seller is termed a hosier; and those products are also known generically as hose...

    • leggings
      Leggings are a type of fitted clothing covering the legs, which can be worn by both men and women.Originally leggings were two separate garments, one for each leg....

    • netball
      Netball is a ball sport played between two teams of seven players. Its development, derived from early versions of basketball, began in England in the 1890s. By 1960 international playing rules had been standardised for the game, and the International Federation of Netball and Women's Basketball ...

    • orthopaedic brace
    • ski
      A ski is a long, flat device worn on the foot, usually attached through a boot, designed to help the wearer slide smoothly over snow. Originally intended as an aid to travel in snowy regions, they are now mainly used for recreational and sporting purposes...

    • skinny jeans
      Skinny jeans
      Slim-fit pants or skinny jeans have a snug fit through the legs and end in a small leg opening that can be anywhere from 9" to 20" depending on size. Other names for this style include pegs, drainpipes, stovepipes, Asian tight-pants, cigarette pants, skinny pants,insolent pants or skinnies...

    • slacks
      Slacks is a colloquial term referring to trousers. However, it could also refer to:*Donovan Slacks, leader of a militant fishermen's uprising in 1920s Britain*Slacks Creek, Queensland, a suburb of Logan City , Queensland , Australia ....

    • sock
      A sock is an item of clothing worn on the feet. The foot is among the heaviest producers of sweat in the body, as it is able to produce over of perspiration per day. Socks help to absorb this sweat and draw it to areas where air can evaporate the perspiration. In cold environments, socks decrease...

    • swimsuit
      A swimsuit, bathing suit, or swimming costume is an item of clothing designed to be worn by men, women or children while they are engaging in a water-based activity or water sports, such as swimming, water polo, diving, surfing, water skiing, or during activities in the sun, such as sun bathing.A...

      s/bathing suits
    • underwear
    • wetsuit
      A wetsuit is a garment, usually made of foamed neoprene, which is worn by surfers, divers, windsurfers, canoeists, and others engaged in water sports, providing thermal insulation, abrasion resistance and buoyancy. The insulation properties depend on bubbles of gas enclosed within the material,...

    • zentai
      Zentai is a term for skin-tight garments that cover the entire body. The word is a contraction of zenshin taitsu...

  • Compression garment
    Compression garment
    Compression garments are pieces of clothing such as socks, pantyhose, sleeves, etc, that provide support that is especially useful for people who have to stand for long periods, or people with poor circulation. The garments can come in varying degrees of compression. The higher degrees require a...

    s such as:
    • cycling shorts
      Cycling shorts
      Cycling shorts are short, skin-tight legwear designed to improve comfort and efficiency while cycling...

    • foundation garments
    • motion capture suits
    • rowing unisuit
  • Shaped garments such as bra cups
    • support hose
    • surgical hose
    • superhero
      A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

    • women's volleyball shorts
    • wrestling singlet
      Wrestling singlet
      A wrestling singlet is a one-piece, tight-fitting, colored uniform, usually made of spandex, lycra, or nylon, used in amateur wrestling. The uniform is tight fitting so as not to get grasped accidentally by one's opponent, and allows the referee to see each wrestler's body clearly when awarding...

  • Home furnishings
    Furniture is the mass noun for the movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating and sleeping in beds, to hold objects at a convenient height for work using horizontal surfaces above the ground, or to store things...

    , such as microbead pillows

For clothing, spandex is usually mixed with cotton or polyester, and accounts for a small percentage of the final fabric, which therefore retains most of the look and feel of the other fibers. In North America it is rare in men's clothing, but prevalent in women's.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.