Fabric technology has been developing very rapidly in recent years. Gore-Tex is one of the most important proofs of this. Gore-Tex technology, which is found in clothes produced especially for cold and rainy climates, can be a life-saving invention from time to time.
What is Gore-Tex?
Gore-Tex is a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane, founded by Wilbert Gore and his wife Vieve Gore in 1969 and registered trademark of W. L. Gore & Associates.
Clothes produced with Gore-Tex technology are waterproof, even if they are under the rain for hours. Despite its waterproof structure, Gore-Tex is a thin fabric, thus offering ease of use. This type of fabric is made up of three different layers. The top layer is usually made of nylon or polyester. This forms the outer structure of the suit. It protects the user from cold and other external factors. In addition, this is the first layer that resists water.
The middle layer contains Gore-Tex membrane. This prevents the waters that the upper nylon part cannot prevent from passing to the lower layer. This is where the name of the technology comes from.
In the innermost part is the lining that protects the Gore-Tex in the middle. Here, antiperspirant and breathable fabrics are used.
Gore-Tex is a patented waterproof fabric type produced with a variation of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) known as expanded PTFE (ePTFE). One of the first flexible waterproof fabrics invented, GoreTex remains a very popular waterproofing material with a few notable competitors.
Design and technology
The materials used in the production of Gore-Tex are basically polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) expanded by thermo-mechanical methods and other fluoropolymer-based products. The application areas of Gore-Tex are very wide including high-performance fabrics, medical implants, cable insulation and, most commonly, the breathable/waterproof fabrics used in outdoor and extreme sports.
In its simplest form, a waterproof rain suit consists of two layers. The outer layer is usually made of nylon or polyester. The inner layer is made of polyurethane. This layer provides waterproofing. Although the garment provides waterproofing in this way, you will still get wet as the sweat from the body will get wet inside because the fabric cannot breathe.
In Gore-Tex fabrics, instead of polyurethane or PVC, a thin layer of fluoropolymer (Teflon) coated film with breathable pores is laminated with the fabric. In this way, the fabric is both waterproof and has the feature of evacuating the sweat vapor accumulated inside. There are 1.4 million pores per square centimeter on the membrane used in Gore-Tex. These pores are 1/20000 times smaller than a water drop. In this way, while sweat vapor can be evacuated from the fabric, water does not enter.
Gore-tex is known as waterproof unless it is split or torn apart. So why do some Gore-Tex shoes and coats get watery?
Chemicals that repel water are used in the top layer. As you use and wash the Gore-Tex product, this layer gradually loses its water repellency. When water touches your newly purchased Gore-tex jacket, the water beads up and slides off the jacket. But after a while or after 3-4 washes, the water does not flow in the same way. Polyester fabric absorbs water and causes the underlying Gore-tex membrane to be covered with water. This membrane continues to act as a waterproofing agent, but this time it cannot wick away sweat. As we stay inside, sweat accumulates and we slowly start to get wet with our own sweat. After an 8-hour walk, our insides and feet get soaked, and this time we start blaming the product.
In order to ensure the waterproof/breathable properties of Gore-Tex and all other outdoor products, you must perform regular maintenance on the products you buy. After each activity, you should gently clean your Gore-Tex boots from dirt in warm water, let them dry at room temperature, and then restore their water-repellent properties to their outer layers with various quality chemicals.
You should wash your Gore-Tex coats and jackets, following the washing instructions, with quality detergents produced only for this job, at low temperatures, at low cycles, and dry them at room temperature.
Other uses of Gore-Tex
The use areas of Gore-Tex are various including production of high-performance fabrics, medical implants, filters, cable insulation and more. Gore-Tex is frequently used in industrial filter systems, cable insulation, space vehicles and most importantly in the healthcare field.
For example, babies born with a heart outside can find the opportunity to live thanks to Gore-Tex. The porosity of Gore-Tex allows tissues to grow through it, making this inert material ideal for cardiovascular implants. In severe local burns an artificial skin can be formed by covering the body with Gore-Tex, in cases where the gingiva is destroyed, it can be covered with Gore-Tex.
GORE-TEX is also used to seal batteries and preserve ancient documents.