A burr. This fruit attatches to animal fur via...

A Burr

Velcro was invented in 1948 by a Swiss electrical engineer, George de Mestral, after returning from a hunting trip.

Patented in 1955, it was manufactured a few years later, after replacing the early cotton threads with nylon, and eventually introducing polyester.

Mestral’s inspiration came from noticing the burrs that stuck to his clothes and his dog’s fur after a hike.

Looking at the burrs under a microscope, he saw that the burrs had hooks and his clothing acted like loops to catch the burrs, which then also released easily.

Copying a process in nature using manmade materials and manufacturing is called biomimicry.

Manufacturing the hook and loop fastening process took ten years of testing materials and machinery to find a combination that would be commercially successful.

Now, Velcro is used instead of shoelaces in children’s shoes, in a game of seeing how high you can jump and attach to a wall, for pockets, attaching things to the wall inside a space ship and to secure disposable diapers.

When my older son was young, disposable diapers were just coming on the market.

They were fastened with safety pins, which ripped the plastic and paper diapers. With Velcro, they became practical and popular.

The sound of Velcro being pulled apart is very distinctive. Click here to listen to several variations, including the sound of a backpack being opened. 

Grandparents sometimes worry that children will never learn to tie their shoes when they grow up with Velcro fasteners.

Tying your shoes by yourself used to be a milestone that children hit at about first or second grade, like telling time on a clock with hands instead of a digital clock.

Now, they typically learn to tie their shoes and tell time on a clock with hands a year or so later.

Find out more about what has changed in parenting and be reassured at the differences in milestones by filling in the form below to get our free report, “How to Leap the Generation Gap.”

To you and discovering the world around us with your grandchildren.

Carol Covin, “Granny-Guru”

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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