From our beginnings to the present day, biomimicry has been the foundation of our innovations. Read on to learn how nature inspired these three VELCRO® Brand technologies.
Biomimicry is a large part of our DNA. From the very first moment George de Mestral invented the hook and loop fastener, to our new and modern technologies, Velcro Companies has seen nature through an innovative lens. Read on to learn how a VELCRO® Brand technology drew inspiration from the natural world.
What Is Biomimicry and Why Does It Plays A Significant Role in Our Innovation?
Biomimicry or biomimetics is an approach to design engineering. By drawing inspiration from wildlife, models, systems, and elements can be created.
In 1941, when inventor George de Mestral was on a walk with his dog Milka, his interest in the burdock plant led to the invention of hook and loop.
After his walk, George noticed that his pants and his dog’s hair were covered in cockleburs. Curious why they stuck so well to these natural fibers, George de Mestral decided to study the burrs under a microscope. What he saw changed the entire fastening industry forever – these burrs contained thousands of tiny hooks that efficiently bound themselves to nearly any fabric (or dog hair) that passed by.
VELCRO® Brand Biomimicry Examples
Biomimicry engineering helps to solve complex problems and create real innovation. Without George de Mestral’s discovery, the hook and loop fastener wouldn’t exist today. Fast forward to 2020 and biomimicry innovation, inspired by nature, has sent us to the moon, created over 2,000 patents, secured infant diapers, and so much more.
VELCRO® Brand ALFA LOK® Fastener
Inspired by Mushrooms
When examining any of the 50,000 mushroom specimens, almost all of them have little umbrella-like tops. These are called caps, which cover and protect tiny spores developing below. To classify mushrooms, they often have specific growth patterns, some of which can grow in clusters. The mushroom caps and their groupings inspired the VELCRO® Brand ALFA LOK® Fastener.
How It Works
This fastener has tiny hooks that are shaped like mushrooms. Created by weaving, the material is cut at an angle, and then the ends are formed to look like caps.
At the top of each hook, you’ll notice a dome or “cap,” designed to help create a secure closure. When slight pressure is applied, the hooks slip through the opposing caps and interlock. The caps are then pulled apart with a higher force when opening. Essentially, the opposing hooks get caught on the lip of each dome, which creates a high peel threshold (this is when the hook to hook closure is separated at 180 degrees).
This fastener is excellent for outdoor usage and hi-temp environments. Its omnidirectional strength can provide reliability to applications such as building façades, interior and exterior panels, transportation interiors, and indoor accessories (like security cameras and thermostats).
How Does Biomimicry Work?
When creating innovation, research is essential. Though it may seem overwhelming, The Biomimicry Design Spiral by The Biomimicry Guild has a step-by-step process to turn the natural world into new technologies.
Identify: Write a brief and outline the problem you’re trying to solve.
Translate: Take the brief and translate it to the biological world.
Discover: Look for examples in nature that can help solve this challenge.
Abstract: Try to “reverse engineer” the natural example.
Emulate: Develop your idea based on your outline from the previous step.
Evaluate: Compare your results to the original brief. Do they match up? Does your result align with the principles of nature?
In biomimetic design, creating ingenuity is about understanding your challenge, trying to solve it, and then emulating the natural world. This process helps push biomimicry innovation forward, both at Velcro Companies and industries around the world!
Our new technologies will keep on evolving. As a company, we’ll always draw inspiration from nature. It’s how we began, and it’s how we’ll continue to progress forward. The only question is, what will we come up with next?
Stay on our blog to discover more of our innovations:
- An Idea That Stuck: How George De Mestral Invented The VELCRO® Brand Fastener
- Dreams to A Reality: An accessible Bionic Prosthetic
- Space-Tested VELCRO® Brand Products