Science of Protection
The science and research that has gone into developing our fabrics is extraordinary. As a result, our fabrics provide protection for almost every weather and environmental condition encountered by today’s military, law enforcement, fire, emergency response, and homeland security professionals.
Drawing on more than 35 years of research in membrane technology, Gore has developed fabrics that provide protection not only from water, but also against blood, body fluids, chemicals, heat and flame, and many other hazards. When developing a protective barrier, we collaborate with users to fully understand the environments in which they work, the challenges they experience, and the hazards they face. These hazards may be the environmental conditions on the battlefield, extreme temperatures of a fire, chemicals and body fluids at an accident scene, or chemical warfare agents at a terrorist incident. We combine this understanding with our extensive knowledge of membrane technology to engineer a barrier fit for each application. As a result of this collaborative approach, we continue to engineer premier barriers that exceed standards in providing the best breathable protection against the potential hazards that you may encounter.
In 1969, Bob Gore discovered expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE). This revolutionary hydrophobic polymer has become the core of our patented membrane technologies. These thin, lightweight, and durable membranes serve as a foundation for producing all of our technical fabrics and can be engineered to offer many types of protection, including:
- Penetration-resistant for liquids such as fuel, blood, and body fluids
- Signature-reduction (n-IR)
- Chemical- and biological-agent resistant
Our ePTFE membranes have more than 1.4 billion pores per square centimeter. The pores are 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water, but 700 times larger than a molecule of moisture vapor. So the pores in the membrane are small enough that water in its liquid form cannot penetrate the membrane, but moisture vapor (a gas) can easily escape.
Membranes are processed into films by integrating additional materials into the ePTFE structure, such as oleophobic (oil-shedding) materials. These materials allow moisture vapor to pass through, but create a physical barrier that prevents oils, chemicals, and other contaminants from penetrating the membrane and degrading its performance.
Different types of membranes (or films) are bonded with high-performance textiles to form durable fabrics that maintain the proper balance of properties found in the individual components. For example, to construct one version of GORE-TEX fabric, we bond the GORE-TEX membrane between high-performance fabrics that are extremely breathable. Once bonded and tested, fabrics are used to make an entire garment, boot or glove, or combined with other materials to meet a specific end-use application.
- Seam Sealing
Manufacturing garments, footwear, and gloves requires seams and stitching. Unfortunately, the sewing needles leave small holes in the fabric that compromise its water- and liquid-protection. That’s why they must be completely sealed.
For waterproof protection and liquid resistance, products using our fabrics rely on GORE-SEAM® Tape. Supported by reliable Gore equipment and expertise, this unique tape ensures that every seam and stitch hole is sealed.
Unlike other technical fabrics that lose their effectiveness over time or with frequent washing, our fabrics are engineered to perform reliably and maintain their performance for the life of the product.
- Water and Other Liquids
The microporous structure of our ePTFE membranes have pores that are about 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water, which means no water can penetrate them. A similar structure is used in fabrics that are required to resist dangerous liquids. We have engineered our membranes to develop fabrics that provide more than water protection — they also resist blood, body fluids, many common chemicals, and petroleum-based products.
To keep you comfortable and protected in windy conditions, the ePTFE membranes in our fabrics are engineered to provide an impenetrable wind shield. By keeping the wind out, you can stay warm and comfortable.
- Heat Stress
In a single hour, your body can release ¼ cup (50 ml) of perspiration at rest, more than 4.5 cups (1 liter) during heavy exertion, and almost 17 cups (4 liters) during a full-out run. If this moisture vapor can’t escape from your gear, you will quickly become uncomfortable and possibly suffer heat stress. Many fabrics are breathable, but very few combine high breathability with protection against liquid penetration.
To minimize heat stress, we evaluate the specific breathability and protection needs for an application. We then manipulate the size and density of the membrane pores to allow water vapor to escape without sacrificing the necessary protection. When water vapor can easily pass through the membrane, you remain comfortable and dry, whether you’re servicing airplanes on the tarmac, rescuing victims at an accident scene, or responding to a fire.
- Chemicals & Biological Hazards
In environments where exposure to liquid chemicals is a risk, conventional barriers often break down and become porous. However, PTFE is chemically inert, which means that our membranes are the perfect foundation for creating garments that resist contamination from chemical and biological hazards because PTFE does not degrade over time when exposed to chemicals such as DEET, jet fuel, or other petroleum projects.
If you may face the additional threat of chemical and biological warfare agents, GORE® CHEMPAK® fabrics offer enhanced functionality. Thin and lightweight PTFE films are used to create head-to-toe protective gear for both civil and military applications. Because the protection you need in a hot zone is different than at the perimeter, these fabrics offer a range of protective capabilities. Many fabrics are made to be as breathable as possible in order to combat heat stress.