NEWARK, Del. (AP) – Robert W. Gore, whose invention of what created the breathable yet waterproof fabric known as Gore-Tex revolutionized outerwear and contributed to uses in many other fields. He was 83 years old.
Gore, who served as president of WL Gore & Associates for nearly 25 years and chairman of the company for 30 years, died Thursday in a family home in Maryland from prolonged illness, the spokesperson confirmed on Saturday. from the Amy Calhoun company.
Gore discovered a new form of polymer in 1969 at a company lab in Newark, Delaware. His father, who founded the company, asked Bob Gore to research a new way to make low-cost plumber’s tape using PTFE, commonly known as DuPont’s Teflon, the News Journal of Wilmington reported.
The threads realized that by pulling the PTFE out with a snap, the polymer expanded by 1000%. The resulting product, known as ePTFE, created a microporous structure. The introduction of Gore-Tex technology came seven years later.
“It was truly a pivotal moment in the history of this company,” said Greg Hannon, CTO of WL Gore & Associates last year. “Otherwise, we would be much less important to an organization than today.”
The membrane in Gore-Tex fabric has billions of pores that are smaller than water droplets, which leads to raincoats, shoes, and other waterproof yet breathable clothing. The patents ultimately led to countless other uses with medical devices, guitar strings, and in space travel, the company said.
Gore was born in Utah, the oldest of five children to Bill and Vieve Gore, who both founded the company in 1958. Bill Gore had previously joined the staff at DuPont and eventually came to Delaware.
Bob Gore received his BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware and graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota. He succeeded his father as president and CEO of the company in 1976. Gore and his family contributed funds for buildings and engineering laboratories at the University of Delaware.
Gore is survived by his wife, Jane, as well as his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The memorial plans were not immediately announced by the company.
The story has been corrected to say that Gore died in Maryland, not Delaware.