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Celanese, Under Armour Partner to Develop Sustainable Alternative to Spandex

Neolast fibers are produced using a solvent-free melt-extrusion process, eliminating chemicals typically found in elastane, aka Spandex.


January 22, 2024

2 Min Read
Neolast fibers
Image courtesy of Celanese

At a Glance

  • Neolast fibers contain recyclable elasto-ester polymers
  • Power-stretch levels can be dialed up or down, increasing production precision
  • Celanese will make the fiber available to the broader apparel industry

Chemicals company Celanese Corp. reports that it has collaborated with athletic apparel maker Under Armour Inc. to develop a fiber for performance stretch fabrics that is more sustainable than elastane, better known under the brand name Spandex.

The new Neolast fibers reportedly offer the stretchiness, durability, comfort, and wicking of elite performance fabrics while beginning to address sustainability challenges associated with elastane, including recyclability. The fibers are produced using a proprietary solvent-free melt-extrusion process, eliminating potentially hazardous chemicals typically used to create stretch fabrics made with elastane, said Dallas-based Celanese.

Neolast fibers will be produced using recyclable elasto-ester polymers, which Celanese calls a critical first step for industry to address the challenge of recycling blended fabrics containing elastane. As end users transition to a more circular economy, Celanese and Under Armour said they are exploring the potential of the fibers to improve the compatibility of stretch fabrics with future recycling systems and infrastructure.

"Working with a leading global brand like Under Armour to elevate the performance and sustainability benefits of their products is just the first of many great things we hope to accomplish with this innovative Neolast technology," said Tom Kelly, Celanese senior vice president, Engineered Materials. "Celanese is proud to bring its polymer expertise and technical know-how to help manufacture Neolast fibers for textiles and fabrics to meet the specific needs of our customers and other value chain partners. We are just beginning to unlock its potential and look forward to what’s ahead as we explore other opportunities with end users."

As well as the sustainability benefits, the new fibers deliver increased production precision, allowing spinners to dial power-stretch levels up or down and engineer fibers to meet a broader array of fabric specifications, according to Celanese.

In addition to exploring application opportunities with Under Armour, Celanese intends to make the fiber available to the broader apparel industry, potentially reducing elastane dependence.

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