Learn about the origins of spandex and elastane, as well as how their uses and other characteristics differ, in this comparison of the two materials.
You typically anticipate that a pair of well-fitting yoga or denim jeans will follow the contours of your body or stretch to accommodate it. This is so because the majority of this clothing uses elastance or spandex to produce this kind of elasticity.
But is elastane the same as spandex? The main distinction between elastane and spandex is that the latter is the brand name for elastane material, whereas elastane is a synthetic fiber.
Let’s dispel any misunderstandings about the distinctions between elastane and spandex by learning more about each material.
Is Elastane the Same as Spandex?
No, the term “elastane” also refers to a particularly stretchy material. Elastane is commonly referred to as spandex, according to most people. These two ideas both refer to the same extremely flexible material. Let’s clear up the confusion between spandex and elastane to learn their differences before we conduct an eco-research on these fabrics.
Elastane and spandex differ primarily in terms of the material’s quality and name. Typically, the production process affects the quality of each material.
But both materials are comparable and frequently used for the same purpose. According to one theory, elastane was actually developed by a Nazi German scientist, thus the name change. The formula’s new owner, Dupont, changed the name to Spandex and began marketing it because it didn’t want to be associated with the Nazis.
The two names have been used interchangeably recently. However, while spandex is common in North America, elastane is used in Europe.
What is the Difference Between Elastane and Spandex?
Let’s assume that spandex and elastane are interchangeable…”What makes them different from one another?” Since they are essentially interchangeable, there isn’t much of a difference between the two terms, as I understand you asking.
One of the only two “differences” between elastane and spandex is that the word “spandex” is more widely used in the United States, while in the rest of the world the word “elastane” is more widely used.
The other tangible “difference” between the two terms is who made the fabric, as different elastane manufacturers make different levels of quality.
Although this can happen with any type of fiber, it’s possible that one brand of elastane will hold up better than another brand of spandex. It all comes down to the level of quality that each manufacturer wants to achieve, whether it be cotton, nylon, hemp, or viscose.
What is Elastane Material?
Elastane is basically a man-made fiber, a blend of about 85% polyurethane (PU) and polyethylene glycol that has outstanding elasticity, durability, and strength.
In general, PU is the polymer that gives elastane its distinctive elasticity. Elastane’s precise chemical makeup is a little difficult to determine.
This polymer is segmented based on a polybutene ether, which is responsible for making it stable so that the fiber recovers its shape after being stretched. It also contains other stabilizers to protect the fibers from external agents such as heat and light. Its main component is PU, to put it briefly and spare you more chemical jargon.
As we already know, one of the main uses for this material is in clothing such as sportswear and underwear because elastane is excellent at helping these items of clothing adapt to the body. In truth, however, elastane can also be used to make stuffed toys, orthotics, and other products.
What is Spandex?
Spandex is a brand name for elastane material and has the meaning “expands”. Although other names are used to refer to this material in other parts of the world, this brand name is preferred in North America. The same material also goes by the brand name Lycra, but it has a slightly different chemical makeup.
Major products made with the Spandex brand include athletic clothing, leggings, competitive swimwear, accessories like gloves and socks, and bottoms like wetsuits.
How is Elastane/Spandex Made?
Reaction spinning, solution wet spinning, melt extrusion, and solution dry spinning are the four different ways that elastane fabric can be created, but solution dry spinning is the technique that most manufacturers use today. This method consists of 8 steps:
- Production of the prepolymer: first, macro glycol is mixed with a diisocyanate monomer (more complex chemical terms. Oh, don’t close this tab, please!) within a special type of reaction vessel so that a prepolymer, the basis of the whole procedure, is formed.
- Chain extension: the previously formed prepolymer is then reacted with diamine acid.
- Diluting: the remaining solution is diluted with solvents in order to make it more manageable, then placed inside a fiber production cell.
- Extrusion: next, the cell spins to cure the solution, pushing it through a spinneret that has minuscule holes which form the liquid into fibers.
- Heating: the fibers are then heated within a nitrogen and solvent gas solution, forming the solution into solid strands.
- Twisting: the strands are bundled together and twisted in various thicknesses with a compressed air device, resulting in better elastic recovery.
- Finishing: then, a polymer such as magnesium stearate is used as a finishing agent, this helps to prevent the fibers from adhering to each other.
- Weaving: After that, the fibers are transferred to a spool where they can be dyed or made into fabric.
Elastane Vs Spandex Vs Lycra.
In conclusion, there is a straightforward method for differentiating between these terms.
- Elastane is the adapted synthetic material created in the 1950s for use in undergarments
- Lycra is the trade name given to the material on completion
- Spandex is the colloquial term interchangeable with In the US, lycra has grown in popularity.
They all essentially refer to the same thing in different ways. Elastane is still being used, regardless of whether you specifically use Lycra brand material or go by its alternate name, Spandex. Regardless of what we call it, this demonstrates that Elastane has a fascinating history in popular culture and fashion.
Final Thoughts: Elastane VS Spandex
The fabric that was created from polyurethane is referred to by the terms spandex and elastane. It is a synthetic material with exceptional elasticity qualities. In your cozy clothing, you’ll frequently find a mixture of spandex and another stretchy material.
Elastane is the fiber that makes up clothing, and we refer to the material as spandex. The term “Spandex” may not be as common outside of the US for the same reason.
Which One is Better Spandex Or Elastane?
The surprising answer is that they are actually the same thing. Everything boils down to branding. Spandex and elastane are capitalized for different reasons. Elastane is the fiber that makes up clothing, and we refer to the material as spandex.
Is Elastane Stretchy Like Spandex?
Elastane is a chemical fiber that is characterized by its high elasticity and its high stretchability. The rubber-like man-made fiber is also called “spandex”.
Is Elastane Healthy to Wear?
Spandex, lycra, and elastane are made of synthetic fibers and contain substances like polyurethane that cause cancer. Long-term exposure to polyurethane can aggravate the lungs and trigger asthmatic reactions. Due to the chemicals ingrained in the fabric, there are additional risks, such as headaches and brain swelling.
Does Elastane Shrink Or Stretch?
Yes. Elastane fabrics will shrink if you expose them to heat. The fibers are twisted during the manufacturing process, and when heat is applied, the fibers unwind and contract. Never wash or dry elastane in hot water or with high heat to avoid shrinking.