Fun Fact Friday: Velcro

The hook side of the fastener (© Alexander Klink / Wikimedia Commons)

Did you know that Velcro was first patented in 1955? Besides being a best friend to children too small to tie their shoes, Velcro has been used in everything from cars to military uniforms.  A few years ago the US Army retired Velcro from active duty, due to the fact that it is too noisy, and is impaired by sandy conditions, but the popular hook and loop fastener is used on more products than most of us can count.  We encounter it everywhere…. but have you ever wondered how it came into being?

Velcro was invented by a Swiss engineer named Georges de Mestral, who gained inspiration from the burdock burrs that would stick to his pants, and to his dog, when he’d take walks in the woods. He examined the tiny burr hooks under a microscope, and became fascinated by the possibilities.

It took 14 years for de Mestral to perfect and patent his invention, finally settling upon nylon, which had only recently been invented, as the perfect material to use. He named his creation Velcro which (according to Wikipedia) is a portmanteau of the two French words velours (“velvet”), and crochet (“hook”). While the invention was a success, it didn’t really take off until 1960′s, when NASA’s extensive use of Velcro in space came to the public’s attention. Since then, the hook and loop fastener has stuck with us, and its popularity shows no sign of ever falling off.

Comments

  1. Paula Naugle

    I wish Velcro closures on sneakers had been around when I had 35 little boys in summer camp for three years. I spent so much of my day tying their laces.

    Betsy, thanks for the link to the lesson. It is so important to teach our students how to evaluate what they find on the web.

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