Velcro is an amazing material. It can be used to secure material to one another numerous times over. It works on a basic hook and loop system, one side of the Velcro is soft, flexible and plastic and provides the “loop” or the surface which the hook can attach to. The other side is rigid and rough or the “hook.” Velcro is actually a brand name, but it was the first type of hook and loop technology developed so now all products of this type are known as Velcro.
The Invention of Velcro
The first hook and loop fastener or Velcro was invented in 1941 by Swiss man Georges de Mestral. He continued to refine his design until it was marketed as a commercial product in the late 1950’s. Georges de Mestral came up with the idea after a hunting trip in which he and his dog returned home covered in burrs. He examined the burrs closer and identified that they used a large number of “hooks” to attach themselves to anything that could be a “loop” such as clothing and fur. He decided that he could create a product that would fasten fabrics together in the same way. His first prototype was made out of cotton, but he found that this wore out too quickly, so he decided to try synthetic materials. He settled on using nylon as it was strong, didn’t break down, rot or attract mold. It could also be manufactured in different thicknesses. He discovered how to make the hook side of the Velcro, but it took him a while to work out how to make the loop section of the Velcro. It took him a further eight years to mechanize the process for commercial production and marketing.
Velcro found a market in the aerospace industry and later in the marine and scuba industry. Later it was popularized by the NASA astronauts and began to be used in children’s clothing and toys.