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Velcro and Beyond

Nehemia Horowitz

Most people consider Velcro to be the ultimate technological advance — a brilliant idea that simplifies life in a myriad of ways. What most people don’t realize about Velcro, however, is that it’s just an application of a Divine system apparent in the plant and animal world. In that sense, Velcro is one of the most prominent advances of “biomimetics” – a field of science that applies natural patents to the world of technology.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The wide variety of natural “velcros” hearken back to the creation of Velcro itself by a Swiss engineer, Georges de Mestral, who after returning from a hunting trip in the Alps with his dog, in 1941, noticed that his clothing and his dog’s fur were covered with cockleburs, small dry seeds that clung stubbornly to the fabric and the fur. De Mestral inspected a few burrs under a microscope, finding the barbed, hook-like cockleburs meshed with the looped fibers in his clothes. His engineer’s practical turn of mind was gripped by the commercial possibilities of combining these “hooks and eyes” — greater even than buttons and zippers — and the seeds of Velcro were planted.

 

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