Spandex fiber

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Woman's bathing suit
MFA# 2009.4219


A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of a segmented polyurethane (Federal Trade Commission definition). The soft segment is usually made from polyether or polyester chains and the hard segment is made from urethane or urea units. Spandex, whose name is an acronym of expands, was first introduced in 1958 by DuPont (Lycra®). It can stretch several times its original length and still have nearly 100% recovery. Spandex is one of the most durable elastic fibers available. It is resistant to degradation by sunlight and body oils. Spandex is used for girdles, swimwear, surgical hose and athletic clothes. Chlorine in swimming pools can cause slow degradation of the fibers.

Synonyms and Related Terms

spandex fibre; polyurethane fiber; elastane; Lycra® [DuPont]; Perlon® U [Germany]; Sheerspan [Globe Manf.]; Glospan® [Globe Manf.]; Vyrene [US Rubber]; Dorlaston [Bayer]; Enkaswing; Lustreen; Sarlane; Spanzelle; Numal®; Unel®; Cleerspan;


  • Urethane burns with a bright flame and little smoke

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Tenacity = 0.5-1.5 g/denier
  • Elongation = 500-700%
  • Moisture regain = 0.3-1.2 %
  • Density = 1.20-1.25 g/ml


Properties of Synthetic Fibers

Additional Information

  • M. Joseph, Introductory Textile Science, Holt Reinhold & Winston, Fort Worth, 1986.
  • G.Cook, Handbook of Textile Fibres:II. Man-made Fibres, 5th edition, Merrow Publishing Co., Durham, England, 1984. p.610.
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • Rosalie Rosso King, Textile Identification, Conservation, and Preservation, Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ, 1985
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • - brand names and companies -Glospan

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