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A zipper, zip, fly, or zip fastener, formerly known as a clasp locker, is a commonly used device for binding the edges of an opening of fabric or other flexible material, such as on a garment or a bag. It is used in clothing (e.g., jackets and jeans), luggage and other bags, sporting goods, camping gear (e.g. tents and sleeping bags), and other items. Zippers come in all different sizes, shapes, and colors.
Whitcomb L. Judson, who was an American inventor from Chicago, is sometimes given credit as the inventor of the zipper, but he never made a practical device. The method, still in use today, is based on interlocking teeth. Initially, it was titled the “hookless fastener” and was later redesigned to become more reliable.
Zipper - Description
The bulk of a zipper/zip consists of two rows of protruding teeth, which may be made to interdigitate, linking the rows, carrying from tens to hundreds of specially shaped metal or plastic teeth. These teeth can be either individual or shaped from a continuous coil, and are also referred to as elements. The slider, operated by hand, moves along the rows of teeth.
Zipper - History
In 1851, Elias Howe received a patent for an “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure”. He did not try seriously to market it, missing recognition he might otherwise have received. Howe’s device was more like an elaborate drawstring than a true slide fastener.
Forty-two years later, in 1893 Whitcomb Judson, who invented a pneumatic street railway, marketed a “Clasp Locker”. The device served as a (more complicated) hook-and-eye shoe fastener. With the support of businessman Colonel Lewis Walker, Judson launched the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the new device.
Zipper - History 2
The Universal Fastener Company moved to Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1901, reorganized as the Fastener Manufacturing and Machine Company. Gideon Sundback, a Swedish-American electrical engineer, was hired to work for the company in 1906. Good technical skills and a marriage to the plant-manager’s daughter Elvira Aronson led Sundback to the position of head designer.
Zipper - Types
Metal zippers are the classic zipper type, found mostly in jeans and pencil cases today. The teeth are not a coil, but are individual pieces of metal molded into shape and set on the zipper tape at regular intervals. Metal zippers are made in brass, aluminum and nickel, according to the metal used for teeth making. All these zippers are basically made from flat wire.
Plastic-molded zippers are identical to metallic zippers, except that the teeth are plastic instead of metal. Metal zippers can be painted to match the surrounding fabric; plastic zippers can be made in any color of plastic. Plastic zippers mostly use polyacetal resin, though other thermoplastic polymers are used as well, such as polyethylene. Used most popularly for pencil cases, small plastic pouches and other useful stationery. wikipedia