Difference Between Lycra and Spandex (With Table)

Spandex is another name for elastane, whereas Lycra is the name of DuPont’s product which is made of spandex fiber. Spandex or elastane implies that the fiber is elastic and stretchable. It is usually used to make skin-tight outfits like activewear, swimsuits, and sometimes in jeans. There are other brands too that produce Lycra.

Lycra vs Spandex

The difference between Lycra and Spandex is that Lycra is the brand name, and spandex is the fiber’s name. In general, Lycra and spandex are the same as one and another. There is no major difference between these two terms except the fact that spandex is a fiber, whereas Lycra is a product that is produced from the spandex fiber. Lycra is in analogy with levis, whereas spandex is in analogy with denim.

Lycra is the name of the product produced and registered by the DuPont organization. It is a subcategory of spandex or a product of spandex. More appropriately, Lycra is the variety or a specific kind of spandex that is used in manufacturing clothes. It is a brand name or a product name.

Spandex is the name of raw material or a fiber that is used in manufacturing fabrics. The basic constituents of spandex are the elongated sequence of artificial polymers that comprises nearly 80 percent of several fragments of a polymer, namely polyurethane. This polymer is responsible for the stretchy nature and elasticity.

Comparison Table Between Lycra and Spandex

Parameters of ComparisonLycraSpandex
DefinitionIt is a product or fabric that is made out of spandex.    It is the name of a specific type of material, fabric, or raw material.
Manufacturer It is manufactured only by DuPont and Invista companies.        It is manufactured and sold by many companies.
Meaning Lycra is more like a trading name. Spandex is the generic word used to describe or label that fiber.
Relationship Between Lycra and SpandexAll lycra products are definitely spandex.Not all spandex fibers can be called lycra.
AnalogyLycra is homologous to the brand name of any product.          Spandex is homologous to the component or the raw material’s generic name.

What is Lycra?

Lycra is the name of the brand that is registered by the Dupont company. Many companies similarly manufacture and sell spandex fibers in several names like ROICA, ESPA, elaspan, and linel. It is often interchangeably used to refer to the spandex fiber. It was manufacture by the biotechnology-oriented American company DuPont. The company manufactures chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and also polymers.

It is also famous for manufacturing synthetic fibers, petroleum-based fuels, and other industrial chemicals. The company also manufactures paints. Lycra constitutes spandex and other polymers of fibers to increase its stretchability, elasticity and to make it wearable and durable. However, it is mixed with a few other fibers. Its elastic properties are mainly due to the presence of spandex.

Its properties make it very powerful, strong, convenient, and durable. Lycra is a fitness and sports-friendly fabric due to its sweat-resistant nature. Despite doing its tasks, it also doesn’t fail to make us feel comfortable. It is a durable knit fiber that is made up of 88% of polyester, and it is also available in environmentally friendly variations. It is available in versatile and vibrant colors and patterns. It is also resistant to saline water, making it the perfect fit for swimwear. Athletes prefer to use this fiber a majority of times.

What is Spandex?

A famous chemist in Virginia in the year 1959 created this spandex fiber. The fiber is made up of poly tetramethylene ether glycol that is commonly known as PTMEG. The fiber is best known for its elasticity and stretchy nature. Spandex has a tough competitor that is rubber. Some amount of rubber is also present in spandex.

Its invincible elasticity provides the material with both strength, suppleness and it is resistant to scratches and has good wear and tear towards sweat and oil excretions of the human body. It can handle, tolerate and resist sweat more than rubber which makes it special. Along with spandex fiber, sometimes yarn is also included to provide an outer coating to the fiber.

Spandex is the name of the fiber in the North American regions. In some European nations, it is popularly known as elastane. Another interesting fact is that the word ‘spandex’ is the anagram of the word expands. It retains its properties and regains its original form after some time when it is stretched and released. The discovery of spandex is a game-changer in the field of fitness.

It is used in manufacturing body-hugging yet comfortable sportswear, pants, and swimwear. Its elastic property is five times greater than that of rubber. However, it is not a natural polymer, and it is chemically prepared in laboratories.

Main Differences Between Lycra and Spandex

  1. Lycra is a garment that is made out of the raw material, spandex which is the name of the fiber, whereas Lycra is the name of the fabric.
  2. Lycra is specifically produced by the DuPont company. Spandex fiber is manufactured in many laboratories and sold by a lot of companies.
  3. All lycra fabrics can be referred to as spandex, whereas not all spandex fibers can be called Lycra.
  4. Lycra is the brand name or the trading name, but spandex is the common generic name given to the fiber.
  5. Lycra comprises cotton and polyester in addition to spandex. Whereas spandex is a polymer and doesn’t contain fragments of other materials.

Conclusion

Most of the clothes that are made up of spandex and Lycra were found to be non-biodegradable, and there was no proper way of recycling them. This contributes to large pollution. These fabrics also provide pressure comfort. It is light in weight and ideal to be carried around during travels.

It also dries up quickly and makes it an ideal material for a swimming garment. Usually, spandex is mixed with cotton and polyester. This fabric is mostly prevalent in women’s garments than in men’s garments. In one period, there was an extreme demand for fiber and garments that was quite challenging and difficult for the sports industry to meet.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0379677905008258
  2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/147/3656/373.abstract