Compression stockings can be knitted from a wide variety of materials such as nylon, cotton, spandex, and natural rubber. These fibers are produced in different combinations and thicknesses depending on the desired elasticity, softness and appearance of the hosiery. The fabric content, compression level, feel and appearance largely determine the purpose or use of the final stocking or pantyhose product.
Travel socks and stockings are often made from a combination of cotton, spandex and nylon, while sports recovery socks use only nylon and spandex. Other stockings or pantyhose may have silver textile threads woven into them, which provide anti-microbial protection.
Many modern foot and leg garments consist of microfibers, creating a sheer material that allows the skin to “breathe.” Because a wide variety of materials are utilized in the production of compression stockings, we recommended checking the material content before purchasing to avoid potential allergic reactions.
In summary it can be said that by combining different fibers and by adjusting the speed and/or tension of the knitting and, of course, by varying the concentration of LYCRA® fiber in the fabric, diverse finishes (e.g. in terms of elasticity or softness) can be achieved.
State of the art manufacturers are capable of producing a wide range of different weights and styles of hosiery that meet both function (e.g. shaping and compression type stockings, pantyhose and tights) as well as the discriminating high fashion demands of today’s consumers.
The following is a brief Introduction and closer Look at the most Popular Fiber Materials used in Today’s Hosiery Production:
Elastane was invented in 1937 in Germany. Best known under trade names such as Lycra® (company DuPont), Dorlastan® (company Bayer) or Roica® (company Asahi Chemical) this synthetic fiber is unique because of its amazing “rubber-band” like characteristics.
Depending on its combination with other fibers, it can stretch 3-7 times its length and return to its original size and shape after the tension is released. For example 2% Elastane is sufficient for pants to retain their shape. The Elastane content can be anywhere from 15-40% for swimwear, sports tights and shapers. It is also used for manufacturing fine stockings.
Elastane is also not adversely affected by exposure to cosmetics, perspiration, laundry detergents or even sea water. It should not, however, be exposed to extreme temperatures or be put in the dryer.
Lycra is a registered trade name of Du Pont Company for their spandex type fiber Thanelast. It is primarily used in sheerer hosiery or socks for its incredible stretching properties and ability to return to its original shape. This provides a smooth and close fit of the hose or socks and ensures high durability and longevity of the leg wear. Lycra is often combined (core-spun) with other materials such as cotton, wool, silk etc. to provide the necessary elasticity, superior fit and durability of the hosiery.
Microfibers are the finest of all fibers, synthetic and natural. They can be twice as fine as silk, which is the finest of all natural fibers known to man. Hosiery and textiles made from microfibers are characterized by a very high thread density, which allows the skin to breathe and regulate temperature easier. Microfiber hosiery and clothing is extremely comfortable and still provides good protection from the elements.
Nylon is a synthetic fiber first introduced in the 1930s. In the U.S. it was first produced commercially by Du Pont & Company in 1939. Because of its unique properties of softness, high-strength and elasticity, abrasion resistance, quick drying ability and responsiveness to heat setting, it quickly rose to fame for the production of hosiery. In the manufacturing of stockings and pantyhose basically two types of nylon are used. They are known as Type 6 and Type 6.6, whereby Type 6 is softer. For the bulk of hosiery manufacturing Type 6.6 is utilized.
Polyamide is a synthetic fiber more commonly known under its trade names as Nylon and Perlon. In essence this synthetic fiber is like polyester. Due to its superior strength and high abrasion resistance, it is very durable and also very easy to wash. It is the preferred choice for manufacturing stockings, pantyhose, socks, lingerie and shapers.
Silk is a natural fiber obtained from the cocoon of farmed silk worms. Silk is used mainly in combination with wool or cotton for manufacturing fine stockings. Silk stockings are characterized by their glossy, soft and light feel. They are warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Spandex is the generic name for a synthetic fiber known for its extreme stretchability, which is used in place of rubber. Spandex is often used in light and firm support garments to shape and/or compress different areas of the body in ones quest to conceal imperfections and achieve that “hourglass figure”. Today it is widely used in core spun fibers to produce a wider size range as well as a close and comfortable fit. Spandex is easy to care for and provides the wearer with the maximum freedom of movement.
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