Gore-Tex Inventor Passes AwaySeptember 25, 2020

Robert W. Gore, who invented the waterproof material called Gore-Tex, passed away on September 17, 2020.  Gore was born in 1937 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He earned a bachelors degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware in 1959, and received master and PhD degrees in Chem E from the University of Minnesota in 1963.  Then he joined his parents’ company, WL Gore & Associates.  On October 28, 1969, while working on a new manufacturing method for plumbers tape, Gore accidentally discovered that  PTFE polymer could be quickly stretched 1000% to make a long chain molecule that was microporous, yet strong. The resulting material was breathable, allowing air and moisture vapor to permeate through it, but keeping liquid water from passing through.  One square inch of the material contained about 9 billion pores, which are smaller than the size of water droplets.

He served as president and chairman of the company for 30 years.  Gore encouraged and fostered innovation.  The Gore-Tex fabric, widely known for its use in outdoor clothing and camping, has also been used in many other industries, including medical devices, electronics, air filters, industrial sealants, dental floss, and space travel.

In 2006, Gore was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.  He also was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and was a named inventor on nine patents.

Kirk Hartung is a patent attorney and chair of the mechanical  and  electrical practice group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC.  For additional information please visit www.ipmvs.com or contact Kirk directly via email at kirk.hartung@ipmvs.com.

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