What is a hook and loop fastener and when was it invented?
A hook and loop fastener is a type of mechanical fastening system commonly used for temporarily joining two objects or surfaces. It consists of two components: hooks and loops. The hooks are typically small, stiff, and rough, while the loops are soft and fuzzy. When the hook side is pressed against the loop side, the hooks catch onto the loops, creating a secure and resealable closure.
Photo by: Trazyanderson – source: Wikimedia.org
The most well-known brand name for hook and loop fasteners is “Velcro,” which was created by Swiss engineer George de Mestral in 1941. De Mestral was inspired to invent this type of fastener after observing burrs (burdock seeds) that would cling to his clothing and his dog’s fur during a hike in the Swiss Alps. He recognized the potential for creating a fastening system based on the natural adhesion he observed.
De Mestral’s invention involved using nylon fabric with a multitude of tiny hooks on one side and loops on the other. When pressed together, the hooks would catch onto the loops, creating a secure and reusable closure. He named his creation “Velcro” by combining the French words “velours” (velvet) and “crochet” (hook).
Velcro, the brand, popularized and commercialized the hook and loop fastener. It has since been used in a wide range of applications, including clothing, shoes, bags, and various industrial and military uses. The development of hook and loop fasteners has had a significant impact on various industries due to its versatility, ease of use, and ability to provide secure closures without the need for traditional fasteners like zippers, buttons, or snaps.
Hook and Loop and the Burdock Plant
As we mentioned, Velcro was modeled after the burrs (seeds) of the burdock plant thanks to the genius of Swiss engineer George de Mestral who was inspired to invent the hook and loop fastening system after observing how burrs stuck to his clothing and his dog’s fur during a hike in the Swiss Alps. He realized that the tiny hooks on the burrs could be replicated in a man-made material to create a fastener that would securely grip onto loops, resulting in a resealable and effective closure. De Mestral’s invention used the concept of burdock burrs as the inspiration for the hooks in his hook and loop fastener, which he eventually named “Velcro.” Where did the name Velcro come from? The name “Velcro” is a combination of the French words “velours” (velvet) and “crochet” (hook).
Thanks to clever innovators there are numerous variations of hook and loop fasteners available today, designed to meet specific needs and requirements in various industries and applications. These variations may differ in terms of size, strength, durability, backing materials, and adhesive properties.
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How do hook and loop fasteners work?
Hook and loop fasteners work by combining two components: the hook side with small, stiff hooks and the loop side with soft loops. When pressed together, the hooks catch onto the loops, creating a secure and resealable closure. The density and arrangement of hooks and loops determine the strength of the adhesion. Hook and loop fasteners are versatile, allowing for repeated attachment and detachment, making them convenient for various applications, from clothing to industrial equipment.
Hook and Loop for Military and Tactical Gear
Here are five main uses of hook and loop in military gear:
- Uniform Fasteners: Hook and loop fasteners are often used in military uniforms for securing patches, insignia, and nametags. They provide a quick and easily adjustable method for attaching and removing these items without the need for sewing.
- Pouches and Attachments: Military gear often includes various pouches and attachments for carrying essential items like ammunition, medical supplies, and communication devices. Hook and loop fasteners are used to secure these pouches in place, allowing for quick access to equipment.
- Body Armor: Hook and loop is used to secure and adjust body armor components such as plate carriers and ballistic panels. The adjustability of hook and loop allows for a secure and comfortable fit, which is crucial for the safety and mobility of military personnel.
- Cable Management: In military communication and electronic equipment, hook and loop straps are used for cable management. They help organize and secure cables and wires, reducing the risk of entanglement and damage.
- Tactical Gear and Accessories: Hook and loop is used in various tactical gear and accessories, including gloves, backpacks, holsters, and weapon attachments. It allows for the easy attachment and customization of gear to meet specific mission requirements.
Hook and Loop for the Military
Military spec hook and loop, also known as hook and loop fastener or simply “hook and loop,” refers to a type of fastening system that is designed to meet specific standards and requirements set by the military. It is used in a variety of military applications, including uniforms, gear, and equipment. The term “military spec” indicates that the hook and loop fastener must adhere to certain specifications to ensure durability, reliability, and performance in demanding military environments.
Key characteristics of military spec hook and loop include:
- Strength and Durability: Military-grade hook and loop is designed to be strong and durable, capable of withstanding the rigors of military use. It is often made from high-quality materials that resist wear and tear, such as nylon.
- Secure Fastening: The hook and loop system comprises two components: hooks and loops. The hooks grip onto the loops, creating a secure and reliable fastening mechanism. This design prevents accidental detachment during strenuous activities.
- Resistance to Environmental Factors: Military spec hook and loop is typically designed to resist environmental factors such as moisture, humidity, UV exposure, and extreme temperatures. This ensures that it remains functional in a wide range of conditions.
- Low Audibility: In some military applications, it’s crucial for hook and loop fasteners to operate quietly and not produce noisy, hook-and-loop separation sounds that could compromise operational security.
- Compliance with Military Standards: Military spec hook and loop must meet specific military standards and requirements, which may vary depending on the application and branch of the military. These standards ensure uniformity and quality across military gear and equipment.
Military spec hook and loop can be found in various military items, including uniforms, tactical gear, body armor, backpacks, pouches, and other equipment. It is valued for its versatility and ease of use in the field while offering a secure and adjustable fastening solution. The specific standards and requirements for military spec hook and loop may vary, so it’s essential to consult the relevant military specifications or regulations for precise details.
John Howard Company are leading suppliers of Hook and Loop to the military and to product manufactures in the United States. If you’re a product manufacturer and have questions or need advice we invite you to call one of our live agents who will assist you with your needs.
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