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Fascinating facts about the invention
of Velcro by George de Mestral in
1948.
VELCRO®
For thousands of years, man has walked through fields of weeds and arrived home with burrs stuck to his clothing. It’s amazing no one took advantage of the problem until 1948. George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, returned from a walk one day in 1948 and found some cockleburs clinging to his cloth jacket. When de Mestral loosened them, he examined one under his microscope. The principle was simple. The cocklebur is a maze of thin strands with burrs (or hooks) on the ends that cling to fabrics or animal fur. By the accident of the cockleburs sticking to his jacket, George de Mestral recognized the potential for a practical new fastener. It took eight years to experiment, develop, and perfect the invention, which consists of two strips of nylon fabric. One strip contains thousands of small hooks. The other strip contains small loops. When the two strips are pressed together, they form a strong bond.  VELCRO, the name de Mestral gave his product, is the brand most people in the United States know. It is strong, easily separated, lightweight, durable, and washable, comes in a variety of colors, and won’t jam.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
History of Apparel    from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:

The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle: And Other Surprising Stories About Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson / Paperback - 128 pages
(1999) / Puffin
Brief factual stories about how various familiar things were invented, many by accident, from animal crackers to the zipper.
Mistakes That Worked
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) / Paperback - 48 pages (1994) / Doubleday
Recounting the fascinating stories behind the accidental inventions of forty familiar objects and products. 
Why Didn't I Think of That?: Bizarre Origins of Ingenious Inventions We Couldn't Live Without
by Allyn Freeman, Bob Golden (Contributor) / Paperback - 224 pages (1997) / John Wiley & Sons

Inventions chronicles the odd origins of famous products, explores how these inventions changed our lives, and reveals the business side of their production and distribution.
Serendipity: Accidental Discoveries in Science
by Royston M. Roberts / Paperback: 288 pages / John Wiley & Sons, 1 edition (June 28, 1989)

Many of the things discovered by accident are important in our everyday lives: Teflon, Velcro, nylon, x-rays, penicillin, safety glass, sugar substitutes, and polyethylene and other plastics.

ON THE WEB:
Official Velcro Site
This Velcro company site defends the name Velcro and sells hook and loop fasteners.
(URL: www.velcro.com/)
Who is George de Mestral?
History page from Velcro Brand products
(URL: www.velcro.com/kidzone.html)
National Inventors Hall of Fame
George de Mestral Born Jun 19 1907 - Died Feb 8 1990) was inducted in 1999 for his invention Velvet Type Fabric and Method of Producing the Same Velcro. Patent Number 2,717,437
(URL: www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/37.html)
History of Plastics
We all know the many ways that plastics contribute to our health, safety and peace of mind. But how did the material plastic come about?
(URL: www.americanplasticscouncil.org/benefits/about_plastics/history.html)
Invention of Velcro ® brand Fasteners
De Mestral, along with help from friends in the weaving business, finally duplicated mother natures hook and loop fastener in the manufacturing plant. The result of his new invention was Velcro ®.
(URL: www.hookandloop.com/extra/inventionnew.html)


DID YOU KNOW
:

  • George de Mestral received his first patent at age 12 for designing a toy plane.
  • In 1951, George de Mestral applies to the Swiss government for a patent for his hook and loop fastener.
  • In 1952, Velcro S.A., the first of all Velcro companies, is established in Switzerland.
  • U.S. Patent No. 2,717,437 issued September 13, 1955 to George de Mestral for Velvet Type Fabric and Method of Producing The Same.
  • In 1957, American Velcro Inc., opens in Manchester NH, where many textile workers live. Hook and loop are manufactured on looms called "shuttle looms". American Velcro has an original idea in the United States market. United States customers interested in using the product have to buy from American Velcro because they are the only company with the special patent.
  • George de Mestral's invention is usually called "hook and loop tape." The "hook tape" has stiff little hooks on it, while the "loop tape" is soft and fuzzy. Together, they're called a "hook and loop fastener" or a "touch fastener."
  • So, what exactly is "Velcro"? It is actually the name of a group of companies and it is a trademark owned by Velcro Industries, but it is not the hook and loop product itself. This means today, only the Velcro companies make genuine VELCRO® brand hook and loop fasteners, while other companies make hook and loop fasteners.
  • The word "Velcro" came from the French words for velvet, "velour", and hook, "crochet".
VELCRO® and VELCRO with FLYING-V® are registered trademarks of Velcro Industries B.V.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised January 12, 2006.
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