Velcro Can Only Be Described As A Breakthrough Innovation.

2111 words - 8 pages

Introduction.When it comes to fasteners, Velcro can only be described as a breakthrough innovation. Nothing since the zipper, invented in 1893, but not successfully commercialized until 1923, has revolutionized the fastener industry more then Velcro.Described as a "hook and loop fastening system", or the "touch fastener", Velcro can be found used in many aspects of contemporary living. Velcro has been used in clothing, shoes, sneakers, space suits, baby diapers, blood pressure cuffs, notebooks, toys, cars, knee and elbow pads, to name just a few.An amalgam of the French words for velvet "velour", and hook "crochet", Velcro is actually a trademark -- a symbol of quality and reputation - like Band-Aid, Xerox and Kleenex -- and is owned by a group of companies, Velcro Industries.Today the Velcro group of companies are a technologically driven, global organization and the industry leader in "hook and loop" fasteners. Through its worldwide subsidaries, Velcro offers hundreds of different hook and loop products and fastening systems. Offerings range from standard fastening tapes of woven and knit construction, through custom-designed specialty fasteners featuring a range of performance characteristics, materials, sizes and shapes. Advances in technology now make available to Velcro possibilities for additional applications extending further its durability as an innovation.The Innovation - Background.In the early 1900's, as a small boy in Switzerland, George de Mestral loved two things--inventing and the outdoors. George was a curious and inventive person who received his first patent at age 12 for designing a toy plane. After completing his studies as an engineer, he took a job in the machine shop of a Swiss engineering company. He worked by day--but by night, he played with the machines and during his recreational time he walked his beloved Swiss countryside.In the 1940's, George de Mestrel, was perplexed by the annoying burrs that stuck to his clothes and to his dog's fur when they went for walks. As a person who enjoyed the outdoors, he found the burrs annoying because of the amount of time it took to remove the pesky things. He knew well that Mother Nature is the best engineer of all and wondered how the burrs were able to fasten themselves so securely to his clothes and dog. Looking at the burrs under a microscope, he noticed each burr consisted of hundreds of tiny 'hooks' that grabbed onto the 'loops' of thread on his clothes. Mother Nature had naturally made an effective fastener!George de Mistral was inspired by what he saw and decided to imitate Mother Nature to create a 'hook and loop' type fastener. He talked with fabric and cloth experts from Lyons, France - at the time the worldwide centre for weaving. He talked with many people who worked with different types of woven and knit cloth. Although the experts liked the idea of a hook and loop fastener, they were dubious as to whether the idea would work.Finally, De Mestral's idea caught the...

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