Robert Gore, a chemical engineer whose failed lab experiments with a polymer led unwittingly to the invention of Gore-Tex, the versatile, waterproof materials utilized in ski jackets, aortic stent grafts and spacesuits, died on Sept. 17 at his trip dwelling in Cecil County, Md. He was 83.
The trigger was most cancers, in response to a press release launched by his household.
Mr. Gore’s billion-dollar invention was born out of failure and frustration. In 1969, as head of analysis and growth for W.L. Gore & Associates, the manufacturing firm based by his dad and mom, he was tasked with creating a reasonable type of plumber’s tape for a consumer. The tape was constructed from polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, recognized generally by the model title Teflon.
Mr. Gore sought to make extra environment friendly use of the fabric by stretching it, not not like Foolish Putty. However every time he heated and stretched a rod of PTFE in his lab, it broke in two.
“Every thing I appeared to do labored worse than what we have been already doing,” he informed the Science Historical past Institute in a brief movie. “So I made a decision to offer one in all these rods an enormous stretch, quick — a jerk. I gave it an enormous jerk and it stretched 1,000 %. I used to be shocked.”
Twelve years earlier, as a school scholar working together with his father, W.L. Gore, a former chemist for DuPont turned entrepreneur, Mr. Gore had discovered a approach to make use of PTFE to coat the copper wires present in early computer systems. The innovation resulted in a contract with IBM and kick-started the household enterprise.
However the expanded type of PTFE he created, generally known as ePTFE, turned out to be a fortune-making discovery. The microporous materials, which the corporate patented and trademarked as Gore-Tex, had distinctive qualities and myriad makes use of.
One of many earliest and most ubiquitous is as a laminate layer in cloth. It permits perspiration to flee however prevents water droplets from coming into, making it ultimate for tenting tools, ski put on and different outside attire.
The primary business product to make use of Gore-Tex, in 1976, was a tenting tent. By the mid-’80s, L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer and different clothes manufacturers have been promoting Gore-Tex jackets, raincoats and parkas, which have been worn by each rugged mountaineers and trendy Manhattanites.
Mr. Gore turned president and chief govt of W.L. Gore & Associates in 1976 and pursued new purposes for his invention. He would stand in a rainstorm to examine clothes and footwear for waterproofness, and he stuffed his dwelling with prototypes. He known as the corporate’s 800 numbers to ensure the customer support was as much as par.
“Bob was the man who made issues occur,” Bret Snyder, the chairman of W.L. Gore & Associates and Mr. Gore’s nephew, mentioned in a telephone interview. “He had a ardour not only for the theoretical, however how the merchandise labored in prospects’ palms.”
Robert Walton Gore was born on April 15, 1937, in Salt Lake Metropolis. When his father, generally known as Invoice, was employed by DuPont after World Struggle II, the household moved east, dwelling in numerous cities earlier than settling in Newark, Del.
One among DuPont’s latest merchandise in these years was Teflon, which Invoice Gore believed was not being developed to its fullest potential. In 1958, he left DuPont and, alongside together with his spouse, Genevieve (Walton) Gore, began W.L. Gore & Associates within the basement of the household’s dwelling to work with the fabric. Ms. Gore was secretary and treasurer. The couple have been equal companions.
Throughout that point, the youthful Gore was incomes a bachelor’s diploma in chemical engineering from the College of Delaware and, later, a grasp’s diploma and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the College of Minnesota. In 1963, he joined W.L. Gore & Associates, which by then had left the household basement and was prospering making wire and cable merchandise for the pc and aerospace industries.
Throughout the Apollo 11 moon touchdown, coated cable manufactured by the corporate was used to connect a seismograph to the lunar lander. Fifty years later, the Mars rover launched in July carried the corporate’s wire and cable merchandise.
Because the a long time rolled on, the makes use of for Gore-Tex appeared to develop, just like the polymer itself. They embrace medical implants, industrial filters, packaging for biologic medication, gas cells for electrical autos, uniforms for emergency responders and even guitar strings. (Coating the strings in ePTFE reduces the oil, cells and filth that construct up from a participant’s fingers, leading to higher tone high quality.)
Mr. Gore is survived by his spouse, Jane (Walton) Gore; three sons, Scott, Tom and Brian; a daughter, Sharon Rubin; six stepchildren, Debi Moore, Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich, Jack Arnold, Tom Coons, Chris Coons and Steve Coons; 4 siblings, Susan Gore, Ginger Giovale, Dave Gore and Betty Snyder; 28 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
Within the Science Historical past Institute movie, Mr. Gore mentioned his father was an lively optimist, whereas his mom was “the center of the enterprise” and nurtured staff’ careers. By many accounts, Mr. Gore mixed these qualities as a frontrunner. By 1996, his privately held firm had reached gross sales of greater than $1 billion. He stepped down as president in 2000.
Mr. Snyder recalled the nervous thrill of presenting a brand new product to Mr. Gore, who had adopted his father’s motto about enterprise: “Soar in and see for those who can swim.”
“He was tremendous interested in issues; he was rigorous,” Mr. Snyder mentioned. “Bob entertained any sort of thought.”