The origin of…Velcro

“Velcro: what a rip-off. “ Tim Vine

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One day in 1941, George de Mestral (Switzerland) went on a hunting trip with his dogs in the Alps. On this trip he noticed that the seeds of the burdock plant kept sticking to his clothes. At home, he inspected them under a microscope and saw that the seeds had hundreds of little hooks that would stick on anything with a loop, such as clothing or hair. This idea of fastening two materials with hooks and eyes was not new, but what was new was the miniaturization of the hooks and loops.

So, if he could figure out how to duplicate the hooks and loops, he could bind two materials together. He went to Lyon, back then the center of weaving, but many did not take his idea seriously. One weaver made cotton strips that worked, but the cotton wore out quickly, so he tried it again with synthetic fibers, such as nylon. After many trials and errors and ideas on how to make the hooks and loops out of nylon, de Mestral was able to make them in a mechanized way after 10 years.

He submitted his idea for patent in 1951, which was granted in 1955. After that, his invention spread to other countries. in 1958 the first mention of this product was written in Your money´s worth, a column written by Sylvia Porter in the US. She wrote: “It is with understandable enthusiasm that I give you today an exclusive report on this news: A ‘zipperless zipper’ has been invented — finally. The new fastening device is in many ways potentially more revolutionary than was the zipper a quarter century ago.”

In the 1960´s NASA started using Velcro in astronauts´ bulky space suits, which reinforced the idea of the public that it had limited practical use. However, skiers saw the practicality of the product and started using it, as well as scuba divers. In the beginning, due to the lack of aesthetic appeal, Velcro was only used in sports equipment. Starting in 1968 and on into the 1980s, shoe companies like Puma, Adidas and Reebok integrated Velcro straps onto children’s shoes.  Since the popularity of Velcro increased after it had been used by NASA, many believe that NASA was the actual inventor or the product.

In 1978 the patent expired, leading to many low-cost imitations from China, Taiwan and South Korea. Today Velcro is a registered trademark of Velcro Industry.

 

Want to know more about the applications of Velcro? Check their website:

http://www.velcro.com

 

Velcro:

used for a nylon fabric that can be fastened to itself (source: Merriam Webster).

 

The word velcro is a proprietary name, that originated in Britain in 1958, from French velours croché, hooked velvet.

Dutch klittenband is a combination of the words klit and band. Klit comes from Middle Dutch clitte/clette, from Old High German kletta, from Latin gluten, sticky/glue. In this case klit,refers to the plant from which the idea came (the Arctium plant). Band(strap/band) comes from Old English beand/bænd/bend, bond, chain, fetter, band, ribbon, ornament, chaplet, crown,  from Proto-Germanic *bandą, *bandiz , band, fetter, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰendʰ-, to tie, bind.

 

Velcro in other languages:

Dutch: klittenband

Spanish: velcro

Italian: velcro

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Objects

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