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Product type Flashspun nonwoven HDPE fiber
Owner DuPont
Country United States
Introduced DuPont
Related brands YUPO synthetic paper
Markets Packaging and labeling
Website dupont.com/Tyvek
Tyvek house wrap

Tyvek /tˈvɛk/ is a brand of flashspun high-density polyethylene fibers, a synthetic material; the name is a registered trademark of DuPont. It is often seen used as housewrap, a synthetic material used to protect buildings during construction. The material is very strong; it is difficult to tear but can easily be cut with scissors or a knife. Water vapor can pass through Tyvek, but liquid water cannot. All of these properties make Tyvek useful in a variety of applications.


Tyvek is a nonwoven product consisting of spunbond olefin fiber. It was first discovered in 1955 by DuPont researcher Jim White who saw polyethylene fluff coming out of a pipe in a DuPont experimental lab.[1][unreliable source?] It was trademarked in 1965 and was first introduced for commercial purposes in April 1967.[2]

According to DuPont's website, the fibers are 0.5–10 µm (compared to 75 µm for a human hair). The nondirectional fibers (plexifilaments) are first spun and then bonded together by heat and pressure, without binders.[3]

Tyvek is manufactured at the Spruance plant in Richmond, Virginia, and in Contern, Luxembourg.


Tyvek USPS Express Mail envelope

Among Tyvek's properties are:

  • Light weight
  • Class A flammability rating.
  • Chemical resistance
  • Dimensional stability
  • Opacity
  • Neutral pH
  • Tear resistance

Adhesion and bonding[edit]

DuPont recommends starch, dextrin, casein, and animal-based adhesives over most synthetic-based adhesives, emphasizing the effectiveness of water-based and quick-drying glues as the best for bonding Tyvek both to itself and to a variety of substrates. DuPont also claims that the following adhesives are highly effective:

Heat-sealing can be used to melt Tyvek and cause it to bond to itself, but this form of bonding tends to create puckers in the otherwise flat material. Dielectric bonding can be effective in some circumstances, as is ultrasonic sealing.[4]


Tyvek coveralls

Large sheets of Tyvek are frequently used as "housewrap," to provide a water barrier between the outer cladding of a structure and the frame, insulation, etc., allowing water vapor to pass yet restricting air infiltration.[5]

Tyvek is used by the United States Postal Service for some of its Priority Mail and Express Mail envelopes. New Zealand used it for its driver's licenses from 1986 to 1999,[6] and Costa Rica,[7] the Isle of Man,[8] and Haiti[9] have made banknotes from it. These banknotes are no longer in circulation and have become collectors' items.

Tyvek coveralls are one-piece garments, usually white, commonly worn by mechanics, painters, insulation installers, and laboratory and cleanroom workers where a disposable, one-time use coverall is needed. They are also used for some light HAZMAT applications, such as asbestos and radiation work but do not provide the protection of a full hazmat suit. Tychem is a sub-brand of Tyvek rated for a higher level of liquid protection, especially from chemicals. DuPont makes Tyvek clothing in different styles from laboratory coats and aprons to complete head-to-toe coveralls with hoods and booties. The latter was notably used by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force as emergency limited CBRN gear during the Fukushima nuclear incident.[10]

In 1976, fashion house Fiorucci made an entire collection out of Tyvek.[11] More recently fashion retailer and manufacturer American Apparel has included white Tyvek shorts as part of its range.[12] Rock band Devo is known for wearing large, two-piece Tyvek suits with black elastic belts and 3-D glasses. In 1979, Devo appeared with Tyvek leisure suits and shirts made specifically for the band, with the band's own designs and images.[citation needed] In 2005, Dynomighty Design[13] introduced a Tyvek wallet made from a single sheet of Tyvek. The ultralight backpacking community has begun to use Tyvek for the construction of extremely light yet durable backpacks.[14] In 2012, The Open Company released a foldable city map made of one of the stiffer variants of Tyvek.[15]

Increasingly, reused Tyvek material is being used by home crafters. Protective sleeves for Compact Discs and DVDs, tote bags,[16] and origami wallets [17] also use Tyvek-containing materials.

Tyvek is also used as a durable fabric in shoes.[18][19][20]

Tyvek is used in archery to construct waterproof target faces, replacing paper.[citation needed]

It is also extensively used for packaging in laboratory and medical equipment as the material withstands conditions used to sterilize equipment.[citation needed]

Tyvek wristbands are used at festivals and events where admission and security are concerns.[21]


Though Tyvek superficially resembles paper (for example, it can be written and printed on), it is plastic, and it cannot be recycled with paper. Some Tyvek products are marked with the #2 resin-code for HDPE, and can be collected with plastic bottles as part of some municipal curbside recycling programs. DuPont runs a program in the United States where disposable clothing, coveralls, lab coats, medical packaging and other non-hazardous Tyvek disposable garments can be recycled, as well as providing a mail-in recycling program for envelopes.[22]

Recently, plastic bag recycling has become more prevalent. According to the American Chemistry Council, these plastic film drop-off locations accept Tyvek. [23]


External links[edit]