What is Spandex? What is Lycra®? Are they the same or different?
Spandex is a generic fiber category. The federal trade commission defines it as “a manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is a long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% of a segmented polyurethane.” A fun fact about this material is that “spandex” is an anagram of the word “expands”.
With its excellent stretch and elastic recovery, the material is similar to that of rubber. The flexibility, strength, and resistance to deterioration by body oils and perspiration are the main factors in being such a popular fashion fabric. While this is an uncovered filament, the fiber is mostly in a mix with other fibers (for example, nylon or polyester). It is most often in covered or core-spun yarns where other fibers cover it to give us a blend of materials in the fabric.
Meanwhile, The Dupont Company registered Lycra as a brand name for a spandex fiber thread. Lycra is a sub-category or a more specific kind of Spandex. Lycra is a type of synthetic fabric that is very elastic. It is made from a combination of polyester and polyurethane (a flexible plastic material).
Due to its strength and elasticity, lycra is a popular fiber in clothing. All in all, Lycra® is a type of spandex. Either way, these fibers are fantastic for the activewear market!