A Brief History
On May 13, 1958, George de Mestral of Switzerland trademarked his 1948 invention, Velcro. Mestral had patented Velcro in 1955 and started marketing the handy invention in 1958. Not surprisingly, the company that makes Velcro is called, Velcro!
Starting with cotton for the fuzzy part of the two part tape, De Mestral quickly realized something different was needed. Using Nylon and Polyester was the ticket, and the rest is modern convenience history. Like “Kleenex” for facial tissues or “Jell-o” for gelatin, Velcro is referred to generically for “hook and loop” fasteners of any brand. Velcro consists of a fuzzy side and a mating side featuring “hooks” that become enmeshed in the fuzzy side when pressed together. Different holding strength can be built into the product for different applications.
The inspiration for Velcro came from the way burrs in a field stick to your clothing or your dog’s fur. De Mestral noticed how the burrs stuck to him and his dog when they went for walks in fields, causing him to look at burrs under a microscope to see how the process works, giving him the idea for Velcro.
Perfecting the method to manufacture Velcro took several years, and the public and fashion industry also took their time to accept the new product. When De Mestral’s patent expired in 1978, the floodgates for economical Velcro clones were opened with products from the far east predominating.
Velcro is a truly great modern convenience that is typically used to close pockets, file flaps, in place of zippers or buttons on clothes, in place of shoestrings on shoes, non-permanent attachment of devices to walls, doors, or the dashboard of a car, and about a million other uses. Velcro is handy for securing bundles, extension cords, hoses or the tangle of wires under your computer. It is even used in spacecraft. (What is your favorite use? Share it with us in the comments.)
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you have shoes with Velcro? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Icon Group International. Velcro: Webster’s Timeline History, 1907 – 2007. ICON Group International, Inc., 2010.
Roberts, Jeanie and Royston M. Roberts. Lucky Science: Accidental Discoveries From Gravity to Velcro, with Experiments. Wiley, 1994.