Who Invented Velcro™?

fact-finder | Student

Velcro™, the fabric-strip fastener, is the invention of Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral (1908-1990). De Mestral came up with the idea for velcro™ around 1948, when he returned from hiking in the Alps and had to pull burdock burrs off his clothing. He placed a burr under a microscope and studied its thousands of tiny hooks.

De Mestral worked for seven years to perfect his invention. He was granted a U.S. patent in 1955 and a worldwide patent in 1957. (A patent is a government document that grants an inventor the sole right to manufacture his or her invention for a certain period of time.) De Mestral opened the first factory to produce velcro™ in 1957.

The name "velcro" is a combination of the French words velours for "velvet" and crochet for "small hook." A velcro™ fastener consists of two nylon strips, one containing thousands of tiny hooks and the other, tiny loops. Pressing the two together locks the hooks in the loops. Velcro™ is widely used as a replacement for zippers, shoelaces, buttons, and snaps.

Sources: Inventive Genius, p. 72; Panati, Charles. Panati's Extraordinary Origin of Everyday Things, 317-18; Travers, Bridget, ed. World of Invention, p. 663.

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