Velcro Is Patented (Great Events: 1900-2001)
Article abstract: Georges de Mestral invented Velcro, a material made of millions of tiny hooks and loops that could be used to make fasteners for a wide range of applications.
From Cockleburs to Fasteners
Since prehistoric times, people have walked through weedy fields and arrived at home with cockleburs all over their clothing. In 1948, a Swiss engineer and inventor, Georges de Mestral, found his clothing full of cockleburs after walking in the Swiss Alps near Geneva. Wondering why cockleburs stuck to clothing, he began to examine the cockleburs under a microscope. De Mestral’s initial examination showed that each of the thousands of fibrous ends of the cockleburs was tipped with a tiny hook; it was the hooks that made the cockleburs stick to fabric.
This observation, combined with much subsequent work, led de Mestral to invent Velcro, which was patented in 1957 in the form of two strips of nylon material. One of the strips contained millions of tiny hooks, while the other contained a similar number of tiny loops. When the two strips were pushed together, the hooks were inserted into the loops, joining the two strips of nylon very firmly. This design makes Velcro extremely useful as a material for fasteners that is used in applications ranging from sneaker fasteners to fasteners used to join heart valves during surgery.
Making Velcro Practical
Velcro is not the only...
(The entire section is 817 words.)
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