W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. is an American manufacturing company specializing in products derived from fluoropolymers. It is a privately held corporation headquartered in Newark, Delaware. It is best known as the developer of waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex fabrics.
The company was founded in 1958 by Wilbert (Bill) Lee Gore and his wife Genevieve (Vieve) Walton Gore in Newark. Bill Gore had spent 16 years with the DuPont Company in a number of technical positions that included fluoropolymer research when he decided to form his own company. While working in his basement, he set out to develop a process for insulating a series of parallel electrical wires using polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a fluoropolymer discovered in 1938 by Roy Plunkett, a chemist with DuPont. His son, Robert W. Gore (Bob), in college at the time, suggested a method for encapsulating the wires which proved successful and led to the company's first patent. The resulting product was called Multi-Tet cable, a multi-conductor ribbon cable used in computers, communications, and process control equipment. The company operated from the basement of the Gores' home until 1960, when an order from the Denver Water Company for seven and a half miles of Multi-Tet cable made it necessary to expand manufacturing capacity. The Gores built a new facility in Delaware, not far from their home, which is still in operation. By 1970, Gore and its subsidiary companies had manufacturing plants for wire and cable in Arizona, Scotland, Germany, and Japan. Bob Gore joined the company in 1963 upon completion of a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota. In 1969, he was researching a process for stretching extruded PTFE into pipe thread tape when he discovered that the polymer could be “expanded.” The discovery followed a series of unsuccessful experiments in which he was attempting to stretch rods of PTFE by about 10%. As it turned out, the right conditions for stretching PTFE were...
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