For most of us, spandex is the stuff that makes us look a lot better than we actually do. It's a magical fiber that manages to shore up sagging body parts, suppress unsightly bulges and smooth out fat rolls. Spandex lets garments retain their shape longer, washes well and dries fast, which makes it ideal for sports wear. And it has revolutionized jeans, making skin-tight styles a wearable option - even when bending and sitting.
And now a new, bio-derived version has been developed that works the same wizardry but offers a much improved carbon footprint, compared to the original formulation, says Invista, the company behind the development of the new bio-fiber.
Spandex - an anagram of 'expands' - is a polyurethane-polyurea copolymer that was invented in 1959 by chemists C. L. Sandquist and Joseph Shivers at DuPont's Benger Laboratory in Waynesboro, Virginia, originally as a replacement for rubber. The polymer is converted into strands using a dry spinning technique, after which these strands are bundled together to form a fiber. After finishing the fiber is transferred onto spools, and is ready for use.