Mind & Matter


Steel Velcro

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Photo by Metaklett


It’s hard to imagine a time before velcro. Invented over six decades ago, Swiss engineer George de Mestral’s ingenious hook-and-loop fastener provided a way to adhere two surfaces without adhesives—and reposition them indefinitely. The technology is now widely used in applications such as shoes, bags, coats, and bandage closures.

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich decided it was time to make even more of a good thing. Imagining wider applications for this technology, they invented metal velcro. Called Metaklett, this new fastening system also allows for easy repositioning; unlike velcro, however, it exhibits good tolerance against significant physical stresses, high temperatures, and strong chemicals. Suitable for use in automobile manufacturing or mechanical engineering applications, Metaklett can endure loads up to 35 N/m2.

Perhaps one day luggage could utilize this technology instead of those zipper pulls that always break off.




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.