Fabled Around the World
VELCRO® Brand products are well-loved around the world, adhering and fastening everything from roof panels to diapers, and known for their familiar and reassuring fastening sound. Hook and loop is part of our everyday language and indispensable to our daily lives. Its omnipresent and is re-invented for new uses on a daily basis.
What has now become an integral part of popular culture, fashion and common home goods, was once invented on serendipity, inspired by a routine hike in the woods. In 1941, Swiss engineer and inventor George de Mestral was intrigued by the burdock burrs that kept sticking to his dogs fur as they passed by the unique plants.
After years of investigating the burrs properties, de Mestral translated those affixing and fastening functions into textiles, creating what we now know as “hook-and-loop.” However, the subsequent process of recreating a burr-like product that could be used in daily applications took nearly a decade.
The burdock burr contains hundreds of minuscule “hooks.” Developing a fabric that replicated these hook-shaped extensions proved difficult but de Mestral was determined. While the “loop” textile could be manufactured with relative ease, the hook textile could not be created so quickly. De Mestral eventually invented a device – based on hair clippers used at a barber shop – that could efficiently cut the easy-to-make loops and turn them into hooks.
At the time, cotton was the most commercially available fabric, but it was too weak and thin for the hook-and-loop to provide any true sticking power. During an experiment with various textiles in Lyon, France, de Mestral stumbled upon a Nylon thread that had accidentally become mixed into his fabrics. At that point, he discovered Nylons ideal properties – durability and “memory.” It wasnt until Nylon arrived in the marketplace and that hook-and-loop textiles provided the strong and durable bond that de Mestral envisioned.
After this hurdle had been addressed, De Mestral decided to name his revolutionary invention an amalgam of the French words “Velour” (velvet) and “Crochet” (hook) hence the name of the brand.
A Past and Future Inspired by Nature
What resulted from George de Mestrals routine hike in 1941 is perhaps the most well-known example of biomimicry in history. Looking to nature for inspiration, and creating man-made innovations leveraging the principles of nature, is the core of biomimicry.
Each of Velcro Companies 35,000 products are based on this particular example of connecting with the environment (the burdock burrs sticking properties). As a company, Velcro Companies will continue to explore, research and study the mechanisms and mechanics of nature to develop versatile and commercially viable fastening solutions.
Around the globe, biomimicry feeds the companys research and development pipeline. Velcro Companies collaborates closely with chemists, engineers and other science-based disciplines at universities and schools to uncover and apply nature-inspired techniques to enhance its existing products and create new innovations.