Velcro fastens with tiny hooks and even smaller loops. Usually covering two fabric strips, the hooks and loops attach to each other when pressed together, and yet peel apart easily.
“Velcro” is a portmanteau of the French words velours (velvet) and crochet (hook). It was invented in 1941 by Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral, who was inspired during a walk in the woods where burs of a burdock plant stuck to his clothes and his dog’s fur. More from The Smithsonian National Museum of American History:
“De Mestral observed the burrs under a microscope. He saw that each one was covered with hooks that looked like a monster’s mouthful of spiked fangs. These hooks grabbed onto anything that had a loop–clothing fiber, animal fur, or human hair. The common burr was a natural “hook and loop fastener.” De Mestral realized he could create a fabric fastener that acted like the burrs, and so the idea of Velcro® was born.”
After Velcro’s patent expired in 1978, the invention became more popular. Today, hook-and-loop fasteners can be found on shoes, backpacks, and other wearables, in hospitals, on construction sites, in air and spacecraft, and many other places. Where have you spotted Velcro?
Plus: More biomimicry.