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Technology Innovation

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"Nature has a strange way of offering us bounty full resources to solve our problems big and small the answers are there if you were to look the world is the world's most meticulously designed product nature has laid out all the dots all we have to do is conduct them."

Velcro is the brainchild of George De Mestral, a Swiss engineer who, in 1941 went for a walk in the woods and after returning home he noticed that the burrs (seeds) of burdock plant had clunked to his trousers and dogs fur. His interest piqued as to how the burrs managed to retain such a tenacious grip on both he and his dog, George De Mestral quickly freed a seed pod and inspected it more closely through a microscope, as he saw how effective burrs hooks were at adhering to various fibres, De Mestral became inspired to create a commercial bonding system based on hook and loop concept found in nature. After ten years of research of product development, De Mestral finally succeeded in creating a practical mechanized process for manufacturing Velcro(separable fastening device), the product whose name he had since pieced together from the French words "velour" and "crochet."

Velcro is the name of the company, not a general term for hook and loop fasteners. Velcro(separable fastening device) was patented in September 13, 1995(US patent no. 2,717,437) by George De Mestral.

De Mestral's technology innovation hit the main stream market in early 1960s, the public's response wasn't as enthusiastic as expected-mainly due to products then cheap and unappealing appearance.

The first big break through came when the aerospace industry realized that Velcro, used a space suit closer device, was far superior to cumbersome zippers and snaps. Due to design similarities between space suits and ski wear, the demand for Velcro as a ski suit fastener arose and steadily increased. so after, makers of scuba gear and other marine wear followed suit. De Mestral was selling over sixty thousand yards of Velcro per year. Today it is a million dollar industry.


De Mestral's technology innovation of hooks and loops fastener was significantly different product from the prior fastener product (zipper) which required new manufacturing process. In fastening industry in 1950 saw a discontinuous technology (Velcro) which fulfilled the same market needs of zipper fasteners with entirely new knowledge base.

Since the radical innovation embodied new knowledge, producers and customers varied their judgement of its usefulness or reliability. It took five years for the innovator to enter the main stream market with the use of Velcro by NASA in the aerospace industry which had effective usability for maneuverer astronaut in and out of suits, keep the food and drink pouches attached to wall of spaceship. Velcro firm has been able to meet the global market needs though product and process innovation in woven and knit textiles, continuous plastic moulding, non-woven loops, and a verity of other fastener products. For example in fabric and clothing sector the Velcro product innovation is significant, Velcro brands button conversion kits which allows the fastening buttons to convert them to convenient hook and loop closures to wear their clothing.

Gradual improvements in knowledge and materials used to manufacture the product enhanced over the time. Initially cotton was used on both the strips hooks and loops did not hold on for a long time and less strength which reduced the usability, which over a period of time was replaced by nylon and later after few years was replaced by polyester, new models of an existing and established product which let the architecture of the system unchanged and instead involved refinements particular to material.



In the case of Velcro, by plotting the technology's s-curve with performance against time. The amount of effort invested in the technology has been increasing over time, the resulting curve does not appears to fatten at all. Due to newness of the technology in comparison with the initial technology of fasteners (zipper) the performance improvement in early stage was slow since the fundamental of the technology were poorly understood by the users and the product was not appealing and cheap, initially the innovator targeted the clothing industry were Velcro did not make any significant impact on the market. With increasing efforts In 1960s Velcro was utilised by NASA in aerospace and there after steep performance increase was observed, Velcro was used by skiers, scuba and marine costumes, storing food pouches on walls, children clothing etc.

This suggest that performance improvement of Velcro technology was initially difficult and costly, but as the fundamental principles of the technology worked out, it then began to accelerate as the technology was better understood.


The graph of Velcro's market adoption over time also typically exhibits an s-shape curve. Initially the technology was uncertain, unappealing, high cost and risk for the potential users. Velcro made an impact on market in 1960 when NASA made use of Velcro which helped astronauts manoeuvre in and out bulky space suits. Velcro soon saw major use with skiers similarities between the costumes. gradually technology became certain with increased use of Velcro in clothing industry were Velcro was used in futuristic creations of fashion designers, enabling the technology to be adopted by larger market segments were use of Velcro over the years was a part of daily life used in home, office, classroom, outdoor and leisure, craft etc. in 1978 De Mestral lost the patent and various number of imitators emerged into market which resulted in market saturation and the technologies diffusion slowed.



In 1941 after returning from a hunting trip with his dog in the alps George De Mestral took a close at the burrs(seeds) of burdock that kept sticking to his clothes and his dogs fur. He examined them under a microscope, and noted their hundreds of hooks that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing and animal fur, or hair. He saw the possibility of binding two materials reversibly in simple fashion and figured out how to duplicate the hooks



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