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Spandex market to grow with increasing demand from textile industry

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2015-12-25 12:00:00 – US

Spandex, a copolymer based on polyurea-polyurethane also known as elastane. Spandex fibers are significantly consumed in a wide range of textiles due to strength and strong elasticity as well its ability to return to its original shape after stretching as compared to ordinary fabrics. It was first manufactured by E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.

The fibers of spandex are manufactured through various processes such as solution wet spinning, solution dry spinning, reaction spinning and melt extrusion. All the processes include the reaction with monomers to develop a prepolymer, after which it is reacted further through certain techniques to finally make the fibers. Among all the methods, dry spinning is the most preferred choice for manufacturing spandex fibers.

Spandex is generally mixed with synthetic and natural fiber such as polyester or cotton for clothing applications and contributes for a minimal percentage of the final fabric. They are especially incorporated in apparels such as skin tight garments, belts, competitive swimwear, cycling jerseys, leggings, gloves, activewear and athletic, aerobic and exercise garments.

In developed regions such as North America, spandex is mostly used in women clothing, and also accounts for a significant market share in clothing in economies such as the U.S.

The global market for spandex has been witnessing a noticeable increase due to rising demand from the textile and apparel industry. However the prices for spandex have fluctuating at minimal rates. In early July 2014, prices of spandex were reduced due to weak trading activities, as well as the easing of tight supply of spandex and low demand from the downstream market.

Although the market for spandex is currently growing, it has been extremely challenging with demand being weak in emerging economies such as the U.S. since the global economic slow-down in 2008, due to which satisfactory trading performance has been quite difficult.

To revitalize the market in the U.S., large scale corporation such as Asahi Kasei Corporation have made various efforts to achieve improved conditions and reduce the operating costs. However, having realized further investment in its US spandex business could no longer be justified, after exhausted such efforts and with no foreseeable prospect for a major recovery in the US market, the company decided to discontinue their spandex fiber operations.

The company, which is one of the leading manufacturers of spandex fibers with 6 manufacturing plants, decided to restructure its spandex operations to enhance its business results. Due to this, the sales and manufacturing of spandexa at its U.S. subsidiary was discontinued in 2012.

Asahi Kasei Corporation, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, The Dow Chemical Company, and Toray Industries, Inc. are some of the leading manufacturers of spandex dominating the market.

Increasing demand from the textile industry is expected to be the primary factors for the growth of the spandex market. Focus on expanding the spandex market in emerging regions such as Asia Pacific is expected to provide new opportunities for the growth of the market.

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