Velcro - or hook loop fasteners, are increadibly useful things.  They were inspired by a natural means of distributing seeds such as burrs and have been used for uses varying from holding pockets closed to stopping things floating away in space.  However velcro is normally made of plastic so is of limited use in hot conditions, and it has a limited strength.

Photograph showing the hooks of a piece of VelcroA group lead by Josef Mair at the Technical University in Munich has developed something rather tougher, steel velcro.  Using 0.2mm steel sheets and a carefully designed process of pressing and bending, they've formed something which works just like velcro.

They have a couple of versions - one called Flamingo, which involves holes in one half and sprung prongs on the other half.  You push the prongs through the holes and they lock together.  They also have the more traditional Entenkopf (duck head) which has groups of steel loops close to each other on one side and barbed prongs on the other, which will catch on the loops.

Photograph showing the loops of a piece of VelcroThe velcro can carry up to 7 tonnes per square metre if the weight is pulling the sheets apart and up to 35 tonnes per square metre if it pulls along its length, so it's strong stuff.  The real advantage is that it will maintain this hold at temperatures up to 800C so it could be used in assembling cars and other machines more quickly and easily.


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