The Rainbow Loom is a plastic pegboard measuring 2 inches (51 mm) by 8 inches (200 mm). It has push pin-type pegs over which small, colored rubber bands are looped and pulled by means of a plastic crochet hook. The resulting looped knots, known as Brunnian links can be assembled on the loom into bracelets and other shapes. The Rainbow Loom kit includes a pegboard, crochet hook, special C-shaped or S-shaped fasteners, and 600 small rubber bands in assorted colors. As of 2013, the kit retails for $14.99; additional rubber bands are sold in packages of 600 at a retail price of $4.
Rainbow Loom was created by Cheong Choon Ng, a Malaysian immigrant of Chinese descent who came to the United States in 1991 to attend Wichita State University, where he earned a graduate degree in mechanical engineering. He was employed as a crash-test engineer for Nissan Motor Company in 2010 when he conceived the idea of a toy loom for rubber-band crafting while watching his young daughters make rubber-band jewelry. His prototype, which he called Twistz Bandz,used a wooden board, pushpins, and dental hooks. Encouraged by his family to market the product commercially, he invested $10,000 and found a factory in China to manufacture the parts, which he and his wife assembled in their home in June 2011. Ng renamed his product after discovering an elastic hair band on the market named Twist Band. His brother and niece came up with the name Rainbow Loom.
Efforts to sell the loom online and in toy stores were unsuccessful, however, because customers did not understand how to use the product. Ng started a website and filmed instructional videos featuring his daughters and niece. In summer 2012, Ng received his first store orders from franchises of Learning Express Toys, a specialty crafts chain, and sales picked up. In June 2013 arts and crafts retail chain Michaels test-marketed the product in 32 stores; by August the chain was carrying Rainbow Loom in its 1,100 U.S. locations. Rainbow Loom is also sold at Mastermind in Canada and in specialty stores. As of August 2013, 600 retailers were selling Rainbow Loom at a retail price of $15 to $17. The kits are manufactured in China, and Ng supervises distribution out of a 7,500 square feet (700 m2) warehouse near his home. In April 2014 a travel-sized Rainbow Loom was released called Monster Tail.