What is the history of Velcro?

Origins

The name-brand fastener that has become a staple of many industries got its start in 1941, when Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral was walking his dog. He noticed that the both of them were covered in burrs, and after examining one under a microscope, was inspired to design a fastener that had the similar rough hooks on one side and loops on the other. It took 14 years for de Mestral to perfect and patent his invention, using the recently invented nylon as material. He got the name “Velcro” from a combination of the words “velour” and “crochet”.

Strong Enough for Space

Velcro is used extensively by NASA, with their space shuttles containing around 10,000 inches each of a special Velcro made with Teflon loops, polyester hooks, and glass backing. Astronauts even have a small patch of normal Velcro inside of their space helmets to scratch their noses if they get itchy!

It was a medical breakthrough

During the first ever artificial heart surgery, a human heart was actually held together with pieces of Velcro!

Briefly at war

In 2004, Velcro secured the United States Army as a client. The hook-and-loop was used on the Army Combat Uniform, a lighter version of their original battle attire in the Second Gulf War. However, soldiers disliked the use of Velcro for the noise it created in dire circumstances, and the dust that the material would collect in dry regions.

Late Night Popularity

While their signature hook-and-loop fastener was being used by popular shoe makers everywhere by the 1980s, competition was starting to catch up. After the original patent expired, many imitations were cropping up around the world, and the Velcro Company was eager to not let their brand name become a generic term, like aspirin. In 1984, Velcro’s USA director of industrial sales was interviewed by David Letterman, who himself donned a Velcro suit while jumping off a trampoline onto a wall. This prompted many companies to find innovative and versatile methods of using Velcro, from attaching electronic devices to car seats, to toys with Velcro materials for catching balls.

Hall of Fame.

In 1990, George de Mestral passed away at the age of 82 in Commugny, Switzerland. The city honored him by posthumously naming a street after him, and in 1999, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame

The hook-and-loop fastener was conceived in 1941 by Swiss engineer, Georges de Mestral

who lived in Commugny, Switzerland. The idea came to him one day after returning from a hunting trip with his dog in the Alps.


He took a close look at the burrs

(seeds) of burdock

that kept sticking to his clothes and his dog's fur. He examined them under a microscope, and noted their hundreds of "hooks" that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing, animal fur, or hair. He saw the possibility of binding two materials reversibly in a simple fashion if he could figure out how to duplicate the hooks and loops.