Who invented Velcro

Perhaps the most useful invention of the 20th century, Velcro has become a ubiquitous product used extensively in clothing and the space industry because it attaches items together easily and without messy glues or causing damage. Velcro is a registered trademark of the Velcro Corporation founded by George de Mestral,the inventor of velcro.

Back in 1941, de Mestral was walking around the hills of Commugny in Switzerland with his dog, and when he got home noticed burrs from burdock on his clothes and the fur of his dog. George de Mestral was an engineer by trade and became curious about why the burdock was sticking. Looking at the burrs under a microscope he saw many small hooks that were catching on the loops of the weave of his clothes.

george de mestral Who invented Velcro

Inspired, de Mestral imagined a world filled with artificial burdocks that could be used in clothing instead of zippers. Over a ten year period he tried many different ways of producing a hook and loop fastener and was almost about to give up when he discovered that making the nylon hooks became easy when a hot infrared light source was passed over the nylon ends causing them to curl.

Another year passed before George de Mestral finally worked out how to create the loops, which were also made with nylon, but needed to be looped and heat treated to avoid reverting to plain nylon thread again. Unfortunately this invention wasn’t sufficient since the hooks would grab, but not easily let go.

The problem was solved by cutting the top off the loops with a pair of shears and creating a half loop which was springy and would grab the hook, then release with a snapping sound when pulled apart. Thus the invention of the hook and loop fastener was complete.

velcro Who invented Velcro

The name velcro is a made up word that took the vel from the French word velour and the cro from the word crochet. Velcro has entered common use as a generalized word for hook and loop fasteners, and in the English language has even become a verb ‘to velcro’. In the 1950′s when Velcro was first introduced to the market it was advertised as the zipperless zipper.

Since those days George de Mestral’s velcro invention has been used extensively in the space industry, NASA famously used Velcro in the first moon missions to help secure items inside the capsule and as part of the suits astronauts wore. Velcro is also used in the automotive industry to secure carpets, headlining, headrest covers and toolkits.

About the Author:

Peter is the founder of WhoGuides - The History Website. He's always happy to share his passion for history. Use the contact form if you want to get in touch with him.

Comments are closed.