What is the history of VELCRO?


Quick Answer

Swiss engineer George de Mestral was inspired to make a hook and loop fastening system in 1941. After years of research, de Mestral patented his invention in 1955 and devised the VELCRO name by combining the words "velvet" and "crochet."

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Full Answer

In 1941, de Mestral took his dog for a walk in the woods and noticed that burdock burrs were clinging to his trousers. The burrs inspired him to create a fastening system that used tiny hooks and tiny loops to attach strips of fabric together. The original version of VELCRO was made from cotton, but de Mestral changed to using nylon, as it does not wear down with use.

In the early 1960s, NASA began using VELCRO to secure items aboard the Apollo missions. Velcro soon began appearing in hospitals, cars and airplanes. In 1968, Puma released a sneaker shoe with VELCRO fasteners, a trend that caught on among other shoe manufacturers.

By the 1980s, de Mestral's patent had expired, and other manufacturers began making hook and loop fasteners. The VELCRO company now refers to its product as "VELCRO brand hook and loop."

The United States Army used VELCRO in its uniforms; however, dust in locations such as Afghanistan clogs the loops and makes them difficult to fasten. Soldiers also complained about the ripping sound their VELCRO-fastened pockets made when they were opened, which made it harder to hide from the enemy. VELCRO was removed from military uniforms in 2010.

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