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The Fiber Guide of Graduated Compression Socks

Fibers play an important roles in developing high-quality compression socks and it affects the wearing comfort, structure thickness, and functionality. With the increasing concern for the environment, consumers are paying more attention to using eco-friendly products. We lead you to explore the main fibers used in graduated compression stockings and their characteristics, including environmentally friendly options.


1. Combed Cotton Fiber: (Main fiber)

It is a kind of natural fiber, which is to removes short fibers and impurities below 10mm from ordinary cotton yarn through a combing machine, leaving a relatively neat long fiber. Through the combing process, combed cotton yarn is smoother, more delicate, and more durable than ordinary cotton yarn. It is one of the most commonly used main yarns for graduated compression stockings.

2. Recycled Elastane (spandex) Spandex-Lycra (Main fiber)

It is a kind of man-made fiber, which is the abbreviation of polyurethane fiber, among which Lycra is the most famous. Lycra is one of the brand names of Spandex. It was invented by DuPont in 1958. It is a synthetic elastic fiber commonly used in hosiery yarns. It can be stretched to 6 times its original length and can be restored to its original state. It can improve the characteristics of natural and artificial fabrics. LYCRA fiber has strong draping, appearance, comfort, and appearance, and plays an indispensable key role in functional socks.

3. Merino Wool Fiber: (Main fiber)

It is a kind of natural fiber, derived from the fine-wool merino sheep. Merino wool has 6 times higher water absorption than man-made fibers, so it has good temperature regulation and high air permeability. In cold weather, it can provide warmth and reduce the sticky feeling produced by sweating on the feet for a long time. Merino wool is rich in keratin, which has an antibacterial effect and can slow down the production of peculiar smells. Merino wool yarn can be used as the main yarn or auxiliary yarn. It can be mixed with cotton, hemp, and silk to increase the functionality of the fabric. It is also one of the most commonly used main yarns for graduated compression stockings.

4. Hemp Fiber (Main Fiber)

Hemp is a kind of natural fiber. Hemp grows fast and almost does not need to use pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, and other more harmful planting methods. Compared with growing cotton, hemp requires less water, grows faster, and has high productivity. Hemp fiber has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects, as well as moisture absorption and perspiration function, soft hand feeling, and cool and comfortable wearing.

5. Bamboo Charcoal Fiber: (Main fiber)

It belongs to a kind of natural environmentally friendly regenerated fiber. It is made by burning bamboo into bamboo charcoal at high temperature, grinding the bamboo charcoal into a fine powder with precision technology, and then adding it to the fiber. Because bamboo grows fast and does not require much management, it can be decomposed by natural organisms and returned to the natural cycle to reduce the burden on the earth. It is a kind of fiber that is friendly to the environment. Bamboo charcoal fiber yarn is rich in minerals, has far-infrared rays, antibacterial, deodorant, anti-ultraviolet, good air permeability and wearing comfort, etc., especially its deodorizing function is the strongest among functional yarns. , So it is called "breathing fiber". Bamboo charcoal fiber yarn can be used as main yarn or auxiliary yarn. It can be mixed with cotton, hemp, and silk to increase the functional properties of the fabric, such as smoothness and drape. In graduated compression stockings, the toes and heel areas are usually knitted to achieve deodorant and antibacterial effects.

6. Nylon fiber (Main fiber)

Nylon fiber is the world's first completely man-made fiber. Its chemical name is polyamide fiber. Its advantages are strong, wrinkle-resistant, abrasion-resistant, smooth, insect-resistant, mildew-resistant, and light in weight. The material is not prone to static electricity and pilling. The disadvantage is that it is not resistant to high temperatures, so high-temperature drying and cleaning with water with too high temperature must be avoided. Among them, the non-absorbent properties of nylon can allow the fabric to dry faster after washing, but it will also cause the fabric to be less able to remove sweat. It can be blended with other different yarns to increase the breathability and perspiration of the fabric. 
Recycled Nylon: It's an environmentally friendly fiber, made by discarded nylon raw materials though removing impurities, decoloring, re-polymerizing, and then pumping into fibers.

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7. Polyester fiber (Main fiber)

It is also one of the three major man-made fibers (polyester fiber, nylon fiber Nylon, spandex). Because of the chemical properties of polyester, clothing made of polyester fiber is not affected by acid and has good acid and alkali resistance, but it will be decomposed at high temperatures. It has the characteristics of high strength, long life, not easy to break, strong expansion and contraction, and quick drying. In terms of cleaning and storage, there are also advantages such as not easy to wrinkle, not easy to shrink, not easy to mold, and not easy to cause human allergies. The traditional polyester fiber feels hard to the touch and does not absorb water (water absorption rate is about 0.4%), but today with advanced textile technology, after blending with other materials, it greatly improves the comfort and touch of polyester fiber materials. Compared to nylon, polyester fabrics are prone to static electricity in a dry environment, which is a major problem with this fiber. Therefore, drier countries such as continental climate countries, North America or Europe, use nylon in fabrics more than polyester.
Recycled Polyester: Recycled Polyester is an environmentally friendly fiber made by recycling used polyester materials, such as bottles, old clothes, etc., after removing impurities and then spinning. The most well-known recycled polyester fiber is Recycled PET Fiber.


8. Recycled PET Fiber (Main fiber)

It's an environmentally friendly fiber made from recycled waste PET bottles. After recycling several PET bottles and processing them, we can produce recycled PET fibers, which can be woven into a sock worn on feet. More than 90% of a recycled PET bottle can be recycled into environmentally friendly fibers, and a 1 kg PET bottle is equivalent to 0.8 liters of crude oil. The use of new petrochemical raw materials is significantly reduced during the recycled PET fiber manufacturing process, which reduces the amount of PET bottles and also lowers the impact of bottle waste on the environment so as to save the use of natural resources and reduce the burden on the global environment. ※ Recycled PET Yarn can be used as the main yarn or as an auxiliary yarn. It can be mixed with cotton, hemp, and wool to increase the functionality of the fabric without affecting the comfort of graduated compression socks.

9. Far Infrared Fiber (Auxiliary Fiber) (Functional Fiber)

It is a functional polyester fiber with heat storage and preservation. Special ceramic powder is added to the manufacturing process of the fiber. These infrared-rich particles absorb the far-infrared rays emitted by nature and the human body and reflect them back to the wearer as heat. The fiber achieves an active thermal insulation effect. The thermal effect of radiant energy is used to warm the partial skin surface and superficial muscles and blood vessels of the human body, so as to improve partial blood circulation and relieve muscle fatigue and soreness.

10. Silver Fiber (Auxiliary Fiber) (Functional Fiber)

Silver fiber is made by adding silver ions into polyester fiber. The silver ions in the fiber can effectively destroy bacteria and microbial cell membranes to achieve antibacterial effects. The good antibacterial properties of silver ions can inhibit the proliferation of bacteria and fungi, and can effectively reduce the odor caused by the interaction of sweat accumulation and bacteria in the air.

11. Copper Fiber (Auxiliary Fiber) (Functional Fiber)

Copper fiber is made by adding copper ions to polyester fiber. It is known for its electrical conductivity, thermal regulation, and antibacterial properties. The good antibacterial properties of copper ions can inhibit the proliferation of bacteria and fungi to effectively reduce the odor caused by sweat. Because it is made by directly adding copper ions into the fiber, it has long-lasting durability. Even after multiple pieces of washing, it still has a considerable degree of efficacy.

12. Conductive Fiber (Auxiliary Fiber) (Functional Fiber)

The conductive element is added in the form of yarn or thread. Metal fibers can be spun, filled, or covered with yarn directly. The properties of conductive yarns can be precisely adjusted by various elements and technologies such as copper, stainless steel, silver, carbon, or metal coating technology to meet various functions and requirements.

13. COOLMAX® (Auxiliary fiber) (Functional fiber)

COOLMAX® is DuPont's high-tech fiber and the most common breathable and sweat-wicking technology in the market. It quickly conducts sweat and moisture away from the surface of the skin through the four-pipe fiber, and disperses it in all directions, allowing the sweat to evaporate faster and keeping the skin dry and comfortable at any time. COOLMAX is 5 times faster than pure cotton, and it is durable and easy to care for. It allows multiple pieces of washing, does not shrink, does not deform, and does not mold; it is soft to the touch and reduces skin discomfort during exercise. If this fiber is used in sports graduated compression socks, the breathability and perspiration-wicking properties of hosiery can be greatly improved.

14. Zinc Oxide Fiber(Auxiliary fiber) (Functional fiber)

Zinc oxide is widely used to treat a variety of skin conditions. Powdered zinc oxide has deodorizing and antibacterial properties. Cotton fabric with added ZnO has antibacterial and antipruritic properties, which aid in curbing foot odor and sweat. A number of studies have evaluated the ability of socks coated with zinc oxide nanoparticles to inhibit fungal growth in vitro models that mimic real-life situations. (1)

The fibers mentioned above are all raw materials commonly used to make graduated compression stockings.

As one of the world's leading graduated compression socks manufacturers, SUNPOLAR continues to try to use different fibers to create more high-quality graduated compression products that suit the brand and consumers. And SUNPOLAR has years of professional yarn matching and manufacturing experience and has been constantly striving to develop innovative weaving methods to meet the needs of brands and users.

From product design, product manufacturing, dyeing, and finishing, packaging to shipment, all are carried out in the SUNPOLAR factory. SUNPOLAR pays attention to and protects the product design patents of each brand customer, and provides each customer with high-quality and high-privacy representative Industrial manufacturing services.

If you have different requirements for the function or want to try different yarns for graduated compression products, it's welcome to contact SUNPOLAR!
You can also follow SUNPOLAR LINKEDIN and TWITTER to catch up on the latest news about graduated compression stockings.

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(1) Prasong W, Matthapan L, Lertrujiwanit K, Supcharoenkul S, Ongsri P, Kiratiwongwan R, Leeyaphan C, Bunyaratavej S. In Vitro Antifungal Activity of Plain Socks and Zinc Oxide Nanoparticle-Coated Socks. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2022 Mar 16;112(1):20-134. doi: 10.7547/20-134. PMID: 36459108.