Elastane Lycra Spandex Swimwear
Lycra is a synthetic fiber, made of a polyurethane with elastic properties. It can stretch to 5-8 times its usual size.
Despite having different names, Elastane, Lycra, and Spandex are all the same material. Elastane and Spandex are the generic names. Lycra is a brand name of the Dupont Corporation, who originally developed it in the 1950s, but it would not exist if polyurethane had not been invented by IG Farben in the 1930s in Germany.
Polyurethane now represents the base material for a number of different plastics. The same basic chemical synthesis methods used to make Lycra are also used to make other polyurethane-based plastics.
Originally developed as a replacement for rubber, Spandex is remarkable for its ability to stretch many times its original length, and then snap back to its starting size with no loss to its spring. It is strong, but not as strong as natural latex, and can be mixed with any natural or man-made fibers.
Swim clothes are not made entirely of Spandex, but get combined with another fibre (or fibres), both natural and man-made, such as Nylon. Lycra accounts only for a small percentage of the final fabric. It keeps the look and feel of the majority material. Fabric colour and elasticity are lessened when exposed to chlorine and sun light.
A touch of Spandex adds comfort and freedom of movement, improving the fit, shape retention and wrinkle resistance of the apparel, but it doesn't have the longest life span.
As little as 2% Spandex is enough to improve a woven fabric's movement, drape, and shape. Whatever the blend, fabrics enhanced with Lycra keep the look and feel of the majority fibre. Lycra swim clothes feel great in the water.
Fabric brand name: Lycra
Fabric also known as: Elastene or Spandex
Fabric composition: Polyether-polyurea copolymer
Fabric breathabilityn: High breathability
Moisture-wicking abilities: High
Heat retention abilities: Low
Stretchability (give): Extraordinarily high
Prone to pilling/bubbling: High
Recommended washing temperatures: Warm or cold
Commonly used in: Swimwear, socks, bike shorts, yoga pants, hiking apparel