VELCRO® Brand products are well-loved around the world, adhering and fastening everything from roof panels to diapers, and known for their familiar and reassuring fastening sound. Hook and loop is part of our everyday language and indispensable to our daily lives. It’s omnipresent and is re-invented for new uses on a daily basis.
What has now become an integral part of popular culture, fashion and common home goods, was once invented on serendipity, inspired by a routine hike in the woods. In 1941, Swiss engineer and inventor George de Mestral was intrigued by the burdock burrs that kept sticking to his dog’s fur as they passed by the unique plants.
After years of investigating the burr’s properties, de Mestral translated those affixing and fastening functions into textiles, creating what we now know as “hook-and-loop.” However, the subsequent process of recreating a burr-like product that could be used in daily applications took nearly a decade.
The burdock burr contains hundreds of minuscule “hooks.” Developing a fabric that replicated these hook-shaped extensions proved difficult but de Mestral was determined. While the “loop” textile could be manufactured with relative ease, the hook textile could not be created so quickly. De Mestral eventually invented a device – based on hair clippers used at a barber shop – that could efficiently cut the easy-to-make loops and turn them into hooks.
At the time, cotton was the most commercially available fabric, but it was too weak and thin for the hook-and-loop to provide any true sticking power. During an experiment with various textiles in Lyon, France, de Mestral stumbled upon a Nylon thread that had accidentally become mixed into his fabrics. At that point, he discovered Nylon’s ideal properties – durability and “memory.” It wasn’t until Nylon arrived in the marketplace and that hook-and-loop textiles provided the strong and durable bond that de Mestral envisioned.
After this hurdle had been addressed, De Mestral decided to name his revolutionary invention an amalgam of the French words “Velour” (velvet) and “Crochet” (hook) hence the name of the brand.
A Past and Future Inspired by NatureWhat resulted from George de Mestral’s routine hike in 1941 is perhaps the most well-known example of biomimicry in history. Looking to nature for inspiration, and creating man-made innovations leveraging the principles of nature, is the core of biomimicry.Each of Velcro Companies’ 35,000 products are based on this particular example of connecting with the environment (the burdock burr’s sticking properties). As a company, Velcro Companies will continue to explore, research and study the mechanisms and mechanics of nature to develop versatile and commercially viable fastening solutions.
Around the globe, biomimicry feeds the company’s research and development pipeline. Velcro Companies collaborates closely with chemists, engineers and other science-based disciplines at universities and schools to uncover and apply nature-inspired techniques to enhance its existing products and create new innovations.
Around the World
VELCRO® fasteners have evolved extensively in the 60-plus years since its invention, and even accompanied the first man on the moon, securing components of Neil Armstrong’s space suite on his famous 1968 trip.
Hook-and-loop, and now hook-to-hook, fasteners are featured in products around the world, ranging from transportation, personal care, apparel and outerwear and even packaging.
Velcro Companies has a library of more than 450 patents worldwide that it leverages to develop fastening solutions that can replace traditional mechanical and even chemical fasteners used in processes for temporary protection, flooring/finishes, solar energy, abrasives and even artificial turf.
With advanced custom capabilities, Velcro Companies often tailors its hook-and-loop to address customers’ unique needs and demands in the fastening space. For example, Velcro Companies creates solutions for carpeting and flooring manufacturers for quick and efficient applications. It also manufactures straps for medical use that feature the branding of specific medical device companies.
VELCRO® Brand fasteners can be water resistant and used for heavy-duty fastening or to simply affix a piece of child’s art work to the wall. Its applications are as endless as we can imagine and provide a nearly limitless array of Amazing Connections™.
Innovation and Technology at Velcro Companies
The Velcro Companies Innovation and Technology Center is a worldwide organization that meets the demands of the global marketplace through product and process development in woven and knit textiles, continuous plastic molding, non-woven loops, and a variety of other fastener technologies.
As pioneers in hook and loop fastener technology, we are the original patent holder of U.S. Patent 2,717,437 filed on October 15, 1952.
Today, the Velcro Companies strives to be the dominant innovator in fastening technology through efficient and creative solutions. With over 450 active patents worldwide and more than 50 years of experience, we are proud of our heritage of innovation and ability to satisfy our customers’ needs.