TTRI, Dow Chemical introduce new XLA "Freedom Fiber"

William C. Pao The China Post, October 18, 2006
DOW XLA fiber virtually disappears in the base fabric, so that that there is no synthetic feel. It adds move-with-youstretch and low maintenance care to the garment.
The Dow Chemical Co. and the Taiwan Textile Research Institute (TTRI) yesterday announced several textile applications using Dow’s XLA fiber that stresses elasticity and comfort.
The fiber, which Dow says is “not a Spandex and not a polyester,” uses polyethylene (PE) as its main ingredient — the same material used for plastic bags and other plastics-based products. PE-based fibers boast various advantages including low cost, light weight, high elasticity and high resistance to chlorine, heat and ultraviolet rays. Applications range from suits and pants to swimwear and other active wear and are highly stretchable, allowing great comfort for consumers.
“This is indeed a quadruple-win for Dow, TTRI, industry players and consumers,” said Thomas Huang, TTRI chairman, at a seminar discussing XLA applications yesterday. “We have spent tremendous amount of time and energy to develop this product, and I’m proud to say the fruits of our labor are sweet.”
Under the partnership, Dow provided the fiber, and TTRI provided the necessary technical support to enhance the fiber. Other materials are added to the fiber so that it becomes less vulnerable to damage during the knitting, weaving and dyeing processes.
“Dow has partners all over the world, yet it selected TTRI to be its research partner on highly advanced projects due to our capabilities,” Huang said. “Improving the quality of a fiber so that is becomes more elastic and stretchable is indeed one of our core competencies.”
As it is highly resistant to chlorine, swimwear made with XLA is more durable than traditional materials and presents an ideal solution for frequent beach-goers. And as the fiber is PE-based, it costs less, allowing downstream manufacturers to develop high-quality products at lower cost.
TTRI is now working on transferring the technology to downstream manufacturers and marketing it to the rest of the world.
“Market potential for this fiber is huge,” Huang said.
The fiber will compete head-on with Lycra, a brand name for the Spandex fiber invented by DuPont. Lycra has been the leader in the elastic fiber market for decades.
Responding to the question whether XLA will replace Lycra in the long-run, Huang stressed that it is a non-issue. “Both brands will have to work separately to find their markets and products that suit the consumers’ needs,” he said.
Yesterday’s seminar saw attendance by high-ranking officials from Dow, TTRI and the government including Kurt Swogger, a vice president of Dow; Luke Du, director of Dow’s Taiwan Application Development Center; and Shih Yen-shiang, vice economics minister.
Info from
DOW XLA™ elastic fiber is a unique specialty fiber, which was developed by Research & Development at Dow Texas Operations. It is manufactured at Texas Operations and at a facility in Tarragona, Spain.
Also known as The Freedom Fiber™, it is based on Dow’s proprietary INSITE™ Technology. INSITE was one of the Dow innovations sited when the company received the prestigious National Medal of Technology from President George W. Bush in 2002.
DOW XLA fiber is combined with woven fabrics, wool fabrics or knitted fabrics to produce garments. It virtually disappears in the base fabric, so that there is no synthetic feel. The result is not a spandex, not a polyester, not like anything you’ve experienced before.
The Freedom Fiber™ adds move-with-you stretch and low maintenance care to the garment. It can endure multiple washings, dry cleanings, high heat and harsh chemical processes for the life of the product — something the alternatives can’t do. DOW XLA also retains color better, enabling broader options when it comes to color and textile design.
There has been a positive reception from major U.S. brand owners. DOW XLA fiber was first launched into men’s and women’s stretch cotton shirts. Today, Dow is showing fabrics and concept garments that contain DOW XLA fiber in:
* All-season stretch wool and wool-blend garments
* Knits for swimwear and intimates
* No-wrinkle stretch cotton garments
Perry Ellis, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and European retailers Marks & Spencer and NEXT have launched new stretch garments that include DOW XLA.

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