Velcro was invented in 1941 thanks to accidental discovery on a hiking trip. Georges de Mestral created Velcro after noticing the clinging power of burrs on his clothing and his dog's fur. Mestral discovered that the burrs had small hooks that clung to anything loop-shaped, which inspired his design for Velcro.
Since then, Velcro has become a well-known adherent. In fact, in the 1960s, NASA began using Velcro to secure items in zero gravity. Velcro is now used in a wide variety of ways, from craft projects to shoes and sandals.
More accidental inventions:
- Charles Goodyear created weatherproof rubber after accidentally dropping his rubber invention on a hot stove.
- John Pemberton created Coca-Cola when his lab assistant accidentally mixed carbonated water with a concoction he had developed to cure headaches.
- The pill now known as Viagra was originally created by Pfizer to relieve pain caused by spasms in the heart's coronary arteries. Although the drug failed to fulfill its original purpose, it succeeded in treating an entirely different condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the inventor of Velcro?
The inventor of Velcro was George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer who took inspiration from the way burrs stuck to his dog's fur and his own clothing. After examining the burrs under a microscope, he noticed their natural hook-like shape, which led to his development of the hook-and-loop fastener system in the 1940s. His invention was patented in 1955 and has since become a ubiquitous fastening tool worldwide.
What inspired the invention of Velcro?
George de Mestral's invention of Velcro was inspired by a simple walk with his dog in the Alps. Upon returning home, he found burrs clinging to his clothes and his dog's fur. Curiosity led him to investigate the burrs under a microscope, where he observed the tiny hooks that allowed them to adhere so effectively. This observation sparked the idea to create a two-sided fastener: one side with hooks like the burrs and the other with loops to catch them.
How did Velcro get its name?
The name "Velcro" is a portmanteau of two French words: "velours" (meaning velvet) and "crochet" (meaning hook). This name reflects the two components of the fastener system: the soft loop side (resembling velvet) and the stiff hook side. George de Mestral coined this term as he sought to brand his revolutionary new fastening device, which has since become a household name.
What are some common uses of Velcro today?
Velcro is used in a wide array of products due to its versatility and ease of use. Common applications include clothing fasteners, shoe closures, and adjustable straps for bags and sporting equipment. It's also used in medical devices, space suits, and vehicle interiors. The convenience of Velcro has made it a popular choice for quick fastening and adjustments without the need for buttons, zippers, or other traditional closures.
How has Velcro impacted innovation in various industries?
Velcro has had a significant impact on innovation across multiple industries. In the fashion industry, it offers an alternative to buttons and zippers, making clothing more accessible for individuals with limited dexterity. In aerospace, Velcro is used inside spacecraft due to its reliability and ease of use in zero-gravity environments. The medical field utilizes Velcro in braces, supports, and blood pressure cuffs, allowing for adjustability and patient comfort. Its simplicity and effectiveness continue to inspire new applications and designs.