29. Velcro

Velcro is the brand name for the fabric hook and loop type fastener. The hook side consists of several hundred tiny hooks and the loop side several hundred small loops. When the two are pressed together, the hooks get caught in the loops and the edges get fastened tight!

When pulled with a tug, the two sides come off with a ripping sound. The name Velcro was coined out of the two French words Velours and Crochet.

Velcro was invented by George De Mestral- a Swizz engineer, in 1941. After returning home from a hunting trip with his dog, he found hundred of burrs of burdock sticking to his clothes and to the dog’s fur. He had to remove them one by one with great difficulty!

What made the burr cling to the clothes and fur so well?

Microscopic examination revealed that burrs had thousands of tiny hooks which could cling to anything!

The idea of Velcro was born. Mestral selected the newly invented Nylon, since it had many advantages over cotton. Nylon would neither rot nor break! It can be made into threads of any size.

Mechanizing the process of weaving hooks took 8 years! The trimming of the loops to form tiny hooks took another year. On the whole it took 10 years of research and hard work to mechanize the process completely.

Mestral submitted for the patent in 1951 and got it in 1955. Velcro, rightly called “The zipper-less zipper” was launched!

Velcro is safe and easy to use. It is practically maintenance-free! Velcro has almost replaced buttons and zippers.

Today it is found in every conceivable object-right from the disposable baby diapers to the diving suits and from the astronaut’s dress to the adaptive clothing worn by the physically challenged people!

NASA uses specially made Velcro with Teflon loops and polyester hooks on a glass base. “Noiseless Velcro” has been specially designed for military use. Of course the process of making it kept a military secret too!

Velcro has revolutionized our day to day life! All this was made possible by one lucky accident and one inquisitive mind!

Visalakshi Ramani


2 Responses to 29. Velcro

  1. Yosra says:

    Asalamu Alaykom,

    I love VELCRO and I love the story behind it. The best Creator is the true designer of the idea with the Swiss engineer simply copying. If we studied nature more we would surely come up with more innovations inshahallah.

    • Truly said!
      What we invent with so much of troubles and trials is just an imitation of the things found in Nature!
      After all where do we stand when compared to the great creator of the Universe?

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