Spandex fibers were first produced by Farbenfabriken Bayer. He was a pioneer in polymer chemistry and in 1952 earned a German patent for his synthesis. The final development of spandex was produced by scientists at Du Pont and the U.S. rubber Company. Du Pont used the brand name Lycra. They soon began manufacturing in 1962. Du Pont is the world’s leader in spandex production.
Spandex development first started in during World War II as a substitute for rubber. Since rubber was being used for the war effort and unstable in price an alternative would fix both problems. First scientists’ goal was to use synthetic polymers to develop a strong strand. Around 1940 the first nylon polymers were produced by scientists at Du Pont. At first the nylon polymers were not elastic enough. Scientist soon learned that polyurethanes could be used for thread. They realized that it would make nylons more stretchable and could be used for making lightweight fabrics.
The physical structure of spandex is quite simple. Spandex is a monofilament yarn or a fused multifilament yarn that is produced in an array of deniers. Because the yarn is monofilament the cross section is round. The end use of the fabric will determine the denier of the fibers. It can range form 20 to 4300. The chemical structure is made up of stiff and flexible parts in the polymer chain. It is the size of the stiff/flexible parts that determine the amount of stretch.
Spandex is made up of prepolymers and colorant. There are two types of prepolymers that contribute to spandex’s unique characteristics. Macro-glycol are long and flexible while diisocyanate are short and stronger. When the two types of prepolymers are mixed together, they interact to form the spandex fibers. Each molecule gets added on to the end of another molecule, and a long chain polymer is formed. To initiate this reaction, a catalyst must be used. Other low molecular weight amines are added to control the molecular weight of the fibers. Spandex...
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