Better known as spandex, elastane is a type of synthetic fiber made from at least 85 percent polyurethane polymers. The exact method used to make Lycra, Dorlastan, Elaspan, Acepora and other brands of elastane fabric is a closely guarded secret.
Elastane was first invented at DuPont chemical company in 1958 by a chemist named Joseph Shivers. In 1962 DuPont introduced the fabric under the name Lycra, where it immediately became popular for a wide variety of clothing. Swimwear often contains as much as 60 percent elastane fibers, but most types of clothing only use a small fraction of elastane mixed with other fibers. Jeans and other items sometimes contain as little as 2 percent elastane to make them slightly stretchy.
Elastane has many beneficial properties not found in nature. It is extremely strong and elastic, capable of stretching up to five times its length. In addition the fabric always returns back to its original shape and size after stretching. The elasticity of the fabric makes it quite comfortable and easy to move in, which is why it is used in a large amount of sportswear. In addition to clothing, small amounts of elastane fibers are also used in some cosmetics and other applications.