Velcro is the brand name of the first commercially marketed fabric hook-and-loop fastener, invented in 1941 by Swissman Georges de Mestral who continued to refine and develop its practical manufacture until its commercial introduction the late 1950s – its patent having since expired in 1978.
The word Velcro is a portmanteau of the two French words velours and crochet, or 'hook'.
Hook-and-loop fasteners consist of two components: typically, two lineal fabric strips (alternately round 'dots' or squares) which are attached (e.g, sewn, adhered, etc) to the opposing surfaces to be fastened. The first component features tiny hooks; the second features even smaller and "hairier" loops. When the two faces are pressed together, the hooks catch in the loops – and the two pieces fasten or bind temporarily. When separated, by pulling or peeling the two surfaces apart, the velcro strips make a distinctive "ripping" sound.
The first Velcro sample was made of cotton, which proved impractical and was replaced by Nylon and polyester. Velcro fasteners made of Teflon loops, polyester hooks, and glass backing are used in aerospace applications, e.g., on space shuttles.
Variations on the standard Velcro hook and loop fasteners include alternates with hooks on both faces – and variations with buttons, zippers, laces and buckles.
The term Velcro is a registered trademark in most countries. Generic terminology for these fasteners includes "hook and loop", "burr" and "touch" fasteners. However the Velcro brand is an example of a genericized trademark as its brand name has become the generic term. The Velcro company headquarters is in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA.