In September of this year, chemical engineer and inventor Robert “Bob” W. Gore passed away from cancer at the age of 83. Gore was best known for discovering polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) in 1969, the microporous material GORE-TEX membrane is made of. GORE-TEX has become an industry standard in apparel today, often fused with fabrics in a variety of ways to make them windproof and waterproof. The membrane was even used in the construction of spacesuits for astronauts of the Space Shuttle Columbia, NASA’s first space shuttle mission.
Bob Gore’s GORE-TEX innovation is approximately 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet but also 700 times bigger than a molecule of moisture vapor. These characteristics make the membrane waterproof but also porous enough to let perspiration evaporate. Air molecules can’t penetrate GORE-TEX either, making it completely windproof. When cold air passes through clothes, it takes heat from your body’s microclimate. Windproof GORE-TEX outerwear protects your body’s microclimate by repelling wind. In fashion and outdoor culture, brands like The North Face, Patagonia, Nanamica, and Arc’teryx have been known to use GORE-TEX in their line of products.
In 1976, Gore became president and CEO of W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., succeeding his father Wilbert "Bill" Gore who founded the company in 1958. During his 30-year tenure, Bob Gore turned the family company into a billion-dollar business. ‘Fortune’ magazine also listed W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. in its annual U.S. "100 Best Companies to Work For honors from 1984 to 2017. In 2006, Bob Gore was inducted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
When W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. became a billion-dollar company, Gore said, "We plan to leave a legacy to society and to future generations: infants with surgically reconstructed hearts that live because of our medical products; governments of free societies that are better able to protect themselves because of defense products; communities with cleaner and healthier environments because of our filtration and sealant products; And yes, people that just have more fun in the outdoors because of our Gore-Tex outerwear.”