De Mestral, George
George de Mestral
TEXTILE COMPONENT DEVELOPER
In 1948, George de Mestral, the inventor of VEL-CRO, was inspired in the development of his creation when he observed how the burrs produced by woodland plants adhered to the surface of his pants and his dog's coat. When de Mestral examined the burrs under a microscope, he was fascinated by the hooks that extended from the burr, forming a secure connection with the attached material. It was this observation that led de Mestral to conceive of a two-sided fastener for clothing, with one side constructed of a series of tiny hooks, designed to catch the opposite softer fabric surface.
The name VELCRO was also de Mestral's invention. He joined two words, velour, a plush woven fabric, and crochet, the type of knitting performed with a hooked needle.
de Mestral patented VELCRO in 1955, and the product became very popular in a wide variety of applications. Beyond its original appeal as a device to fasten articles of clothing, VELCRO soon became used throughout industry performing a multitude of functions. VELCRO is now a part of such diverse processes as medical operations and the carry bags used to transport laptop computers.
VELCRO has become a very important part of sports performance. VELCRO fasteners can be readily adjusted to any desired tension, making them important in such devices as ski boots, gloves and many types of outerwear. In events where the athlete must make a speedy transition from one element of the activity to the next, such as is required in the triathlon, the VELCRO fasteners can be opened or closed faster than any other design. The helmets used in sports such as hockey, football, and auto racing are adjusted in various places on the helmet shell to customize the fit of the helmet to the athlete's head using VELCRO straps. Safety equipment such as landing mats in gymnastics and track and field are often secured with VELCRO
VELCRO closures have played a particular role in youth sports, as they render running shoes easier to use for very young participants.
While there are other manufacturers of similar fastening products, VELCRO is the generic name by which all such products are known.
de Mestral was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1999.