The man whose invention of what created the breathable but waterproof fabric called Gore-Tex has died at the age of 83
NEWARK, Del. ̵
Gore, who was president of WL Gore & Associates for nearly 25 years and chairman of the company for 30 years, died Thursday at a family home in Maryland after a long illness, company spokeswoman Amy Calhoun confirmed Saturday.
Gore discovered a new form of polymer in 1969 at a business laboratory in Newark, Delaware. His father, who started the company, asked Bob Gore to explore a new way for low-cost plumbing tape manufacturers with PTFE, commonly known as DuPont’s Teflon, reported The News Journal of Wilmington.
The son found out that the polymer expanded by 1000 percent by stretching out PTFE with a sudden jerk. The resulting product, known as ePTFE, created a microporous structure. The introduction of Gore-Tex technology came seven years later.
“It really was a turning point in the history of this company,” said Greg Hannon, WL Gore & Associates’ Chief Technology Officer, last year. “Without us we would be much less important to an organization than we are today.”
The membrane in the Gore-Tex fabric has billions of pores smaller than water droplets, leading to waterproof but breathable raincoats, shoes and other clothing. The patents eventually led to countless other uses with medical devices, guitar strings and in space travel, the company said.
Gore was born in Utah, the eldest of five children to Bill and Vieve Gore, who both founded the company in 1958. Bill Gore had previously joined DuPont’s workforce and eventually came to Delaware.
Bob Gore earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware and an advanced degree from the University of Minnesota. He succeeded his father as the company’s President and CEO in 1976. Gore and his family contributed funds for buildings and technical laboratories at the University of Delaware.
Gore is survived by his wife Jane, as well as children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Memorial plans were not immediately announced by the company.
History has been corrected to say that Gore died in Maryland, not Delaware.