About Gore-Tex

Gore-Tex is used Worldwide in many products today, and has made a real difference to fabric technology waterproofing.

Early History

Gore-Tex is a waterproof/breathable fabric, and a registered trademark of W. L. Gore and Associates. It was co-invented by Wilbert L. Gore (1912–1986), Rowena Taylor, and Gore's son, Robert W. Gore. Robert Gore was granted U.S. Patent 3,953,566 on April 27, 1976, for a porous form of polytetrafluoroethylene (the chemical constituent of Teflon) with a micro-structure characterized by nodes interconnected by fibrils. Robert Gore, Rowena Taylor, and Samuel Allen were granted U.S. Patent 4,194,041 on March 18, 1980 for a "waterproof laminate." For its invention, Robert W. Gore was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006.

In 1969, Bob Gore discovered expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) which was introduced to under the trademark, Gore-Tex. PTFE is made using an emulsion polymerization process that utilizes the fluorosurfactant PFOA, a persistent environmental contaminant. As Gore-Tex is PTFE-based, PFOA is used in its production.

 

Military use

Gore-Tex is used in many military applications, from jackets to footwear. The properties of Gore-Tex lend themselves to the military due to the lightness of fabric, ease of care and design applications.

The use of Gore-Tex in boots especially made a real difference to the military, waterproofing boots, and making them breathable, lowering injury to feet and lowering cases of illness due to foot care. In World War One, injuries to feet took a great many soldiers from the battlefield and tied up medical resources that could have been used to treat more serious cases.

Put simply, Gore-Tex is great for moral and operational effectiveness of troops.

The properties of the GORE-TEX® membrane at a glance:

  • Durably waterproof
  • Very breathable
  • Highly cold resistant
  • Extremely light
  • Resistent to flexing

The secret of GORE-TEX fabrics lies within its revolutionary bi-component membrane.

The expanded PTFE portion of the membrane contains over 9 billion microscopic pores per square inch. These pores are approximately 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water, but 700 times bigger than a molecule of moisture vapour. So whilst water droplets cannot penetrate the GORE-TEX membrane, moisture vapour (a gas) can easily escape.

Integrated into the ePTFE structure is an oleophobic, or oil hating substance that allows moisture vapour to pass through, but creates a physical barrier to contaminating substances such as oils, cosmetics, insect repellents and food substances.

The result is a durably waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane.

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