Happy Accidents #003 - Velcro
How a hunting trip led to the accidental invention of this revolutionary fastener
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Do you remember playing with Velcro as a child, enjoying the satisfying sound of the hooks and loops coming apart? Well, you have a hunting trip in the Swiss Alps to thank for this ingenious invention.
It was on one of these trips that Swiss engineer George de Mestral noticed burrs from the burdock plant sticking to his dog's fur.
Intrigued by the way the small hooks on the burrs caught on the fibers of the fur, he decided to recreate this concept in a fastener.
And so, Velcro was born!
De Mestral wove loops of cotton into a piece of cloth and cut the loops to create hooks. He then attached the hooks to another piece of cloth with loops and voila! The two pieces of cloth securely interlocked, forming a fastener that could be easily opened and closed.
Who would have thought that a simple walk in the Alps could lead to such a revolutionary invention?
Today, Velcro is used in a variety of applications, from clothing and footwear to space exploration. And George de Mestral? He's remembered as a creative genius who changed the course of modern history with his love for nature and curiosity.
So the next time you hear that satisfying sound of Velcro coming apart, remember the hunting trip in the Swiss Alps that made it all possible..
Some fun facts:
- The name "Velcro" is a combination of the words "velvet" and "crochet."
- Velcro is still widely used by NASA today and can be found on spacesuits, in the International Space Station, and on various equipment and tools used by astronauts.
- The hooks and loops of Velcro can support up to 90 pounds, making it a strong and durable fastener.
- The sound of Velcro being opened and closed is so distinctive that it has been used in many movies and TV shows as a sound effect.
The lessons here:
- Observe and learn from nature: George de Mestral was inspired by the way burrs from the burdock plant stuck to his dog's fur
- Stay curious: De Mestral's curiosity about the way burrs stuck to his dog's fur sparked his imagination and led him to develop Velcro.
- Persevere through failures: Velcro was not an instant success. De Mestral initially struggled to manufacture Velcro on a large scale and to convince others of its potential. However, he persevered and eventually succeeded.
- Look beyond conventional solutions: Velcro offered a new and unconventional solution to the problem of fastening things. De Mestral looked beyond conventional solutions and created something truly innovative.
- Look Embrace change: De Mestral was open to new ideas and was willing to change his approach when necessary. This allowed him to keep refining his invention until it became the success we know today.
YOUR Happy Accidents
Last week, I posed this question to people on Twitter and LinkedIn - "What's the most fortunate thing to ever happen to you by accident?"
There was some VERY interesting responses. From near death experiences, to how they met their spouse or business partner.
You can check out their replies on LinkedIn here
And Twitter here
The Happy Accidents newsletter is brought to you by Dennis Geelen
Author of the best selling book, The Accidental Solopreneur