Spandex or elastane is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity (stretchability). It is stronger and more durable than rubber, its major non-synthetic competitor. It was invented in 1959 by DuPont chemist Joseph Shivers. When first introduced it revolutionized many areas of the clothing industry. It is one of the most used and best materials in lingerie.
"Spandex" is a generic name and not derived from the chemical name of the fiber, which most manufactured fibers are, but derived by shifting around the syllables in the word expand. "Spandex" is the preferred name in North America; elsewhere it is referred to as "elastane".
The most famous brand name associated with spandex is Lycra, a trademark of Invista (formerly part of DuPont). Such is Lycra's prominence it has become a genericised trademark in many parts of the world, used to describe any kind of spandex. Invista discourages such use, protecting its trademark vigorously.
Spandex fiber characteristics
Spandex is classified as an elastomeric fiber. An elastomer is a natural or synthetic polymer that, at room temperature,can be stretched and expanded to twice its original length. After removal of the tensile load it will immediately return to its original length. Along with spandex, rubber and anidex (no longer produced in the United States) are considered elastomeric fibers. Spun from a block copolymer, these fibers exploit the high crystallinity and hardness of polyurethane segments, yet remain "rubbery" due to alternating segments of polyethylene glycol.
This yields the following combination of materials properties:
* can be stretched over 500% without breaking
* able to be stretched repetitively and still recover original length
* abrasion resistant
* poor strength, but stronger and more durable than rubber
* soft, smooth, and supple
* resistant to body oils, perspiration, lotions, and detergents
* no static or pilling problem
* very comfortable
* easily dyed
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