Steel 'Velcro' supports 35 metric tons, looks scary
By Alan Brandon
September 14, 2009
A new material called Metaklett is like hook-and-loop (“Velcro”) made out of steel and much scarier. One side of the material bristles with sharp spikes and the other side has jagged steel brushes. Looking something like the mouth of a prehistoric shark, a square meter of Metaklett can support up to 35 metric tons and withstand heat of up to 800 degrees Celsius. Developed at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, researchers borrowed from the traditional hook-and-loop concept to design a fastener for extreme loads and environments such as automotive, building, or military applications.
Traditional Velcro hook-and-loop fasteners have been around for about 60 years. Typically made of nylon, the sticky stuff with its trademark ripping sound is now found in myriad applications such as shoe laces, bandages, clothing and uniforms, cable ties, and just about anywhere removable or adjustable fasteners are required.
One drawback to nylon hook-and-loop is that it does not hold up well in extreme conditions. Metaklett’s developers say their material is suitable for use in hot environments, such as the automotive or aerospace industries, as well applications that require great strength such as the building trades. Metaklett could also be suitable for use in chemical environments where disinfectants or other harsh materials would destroy traditional hook-and-loop.
The researchers from the university’s Institute of Metal Forming and Casting have developed three variants of the Metaklett fastener: "Entenknopf" (or "duck's head") is modeled closely on standard Velcro. “Flamingo” uses wider hook elements that snap into openings in a perforated tape. A third “hybrid” variant combines a spring-steel hook side with a synthetic loop side for use in textile applications.