Spandex

(Alternatively Elastane)

Spandex Textile Filament Fiber

First U.S. Commercial Spandex Fiber Production: 1959, DuPont Company

Current U.S. Spandex Fiber Producers: INVISTA

Federal Trade Commission Definition for Spandex Fiber: A manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is a long-chain synthetic polymer comprised of at least 85% of a segmented polyurethane. (Complete FTC Fiber Rules here.)

Basic Principles of Spandex Fiber Production — The polymer chain is a segmented block copolymer containing long, randomly coiled, liquid, soft segments that move to a more linear, lower entropy, structure. The hard segments act as “virtual cross-links” that tie all the polymer chains together into an infinite network. This network prevents the polymer chains from slipping past each other and taking on a permanent set or draw. When the stretching force is removed, the linear, low entropy, soft segments move back to the preferred randomly coiled, higher entropy state, causing the fiber to recover to its original shape and length. This segmented block copolymer is formed in a multi-step proprietary process. It is extruded into a fiber as a monofilament threadline or for most products into a multiplicity of fine filaments that are coalesced shortly after they are formed into a single threadline.

Spandex Fiber Characteristics

  • Can be stretched repeatedly and still recover to very near its original length and shape
  • Generally, can be stretched more than 500% without breaking
  • Stronger, more durable and higher retractive force than rubber
  • Lightweight, soft, smooth, supple
  • In garments, provides a combination of comfort and fit, prevents bagging and sagging
  • Heat-settable — facilitates transforming puckered fabrics into flat fabrics, or flat fabrics into permanent rounded shapes
  • Dyeable
  • Resistant to deterioration by body oils, perspiration, lotions or detergents
  • Abrasion resistant
  • When fabrics containing spandex are sewn, the needle causes little or no damage from “needle cutting” compared to the older types of elastic materials
  • Available in fiber diameters ranging from 10 denier to 2500 denier
  • Available in clear and opaque lusters

Some Major Spandex Fiber Uses

  • Garments where comfort and fit are desired: hosiery, swimsuits, aerobic/exercise wear, ski pants, golf jackets, disposable diaper, waist bands, bra straps and bra side panels
  • Compression garments: surgical hose, support hose, bicycle pants, foundation garments
  • Shaped garments: bra cups

General Spandex Fiber Care Tips

  • Hand or machine wash in lukewarm water
  • Do not use chlorine bleach on any fabric containing spandex. Use oxygen or sodium perborate type bleach
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Drip dry. If machine dried, use low temperature
  • Ironing, if required, should be done rapidly. Do not leave the iron too long in one position. Use low temperatures setting. (For specific instructions, refer to garment’s sewn-in care label)