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In the French language, a needle is called aquille or aquillete, and from this we get the name aglet. Also known as aiglet, an aglet is the end tip of a shoelace that is bound with a metal tag, a plastic sheath, a glass holder, or a molded polyester crimp. The shoelace tips are protected by the aiglets and kept from unraveling and fraying. Aglets, in the same way as needles with threads, make it easier for the wearer to weave the shoelaces in and out of the series of holes in the shoe that are known as eyelets or lugs, and further enable the wearer to draw the laces tight and tie them up. Aside from shoelaces, aiglets are used to sheath the ends of drawstrings, ribbons and cords; sometimes these tips are used as cloth fasteners in place of buttons and hooks.
To put a metal aiglet on a shoelace, a small strip of metal is folded about the shoelace end and crimped into place. Different kinds of metals like copper, bronze, silver and gold have been used over the ages to make useful as well as decorative aglets. A shoelace tipping machine can be used to form plastic aglets. In this case, plastic strips are enfolded around the shoelace and subjected to heat and an acetone solvent until the plastic meshes completely with the shoelace.
Polyester aglets are more common and convenient than metal or plastic aglets in the present times. These aglets are made by the ultrasonic heating of the clinched ends of polyester shoelaces or cords. The aglet produced is solid and permanent. There are no issues of polyester tips coming loose or becoming damaged, and this makes them an excellent choice in laces for high activity sports that require tough, well-enduring shoes.
While a polyester aiglet is permanent, the metal and plastic ones are not and may break or fall off and need to be replaced. The easiest way to make a new aglet is to dip the lace tip in transparent nail polish or hot candle wax or resin, and to let it dry naturally. Wrapping adhesive tape or thread around the tips can also do the trick. Heat shrink and metal tubing may also be used to form aglets. It is more eco-friendly to repair the tips rather than to throw them away and get new shoelaces.