Wearable Tech World Feature Article
February 28, 2013

Apple Supplier Corning Sees 3-Year Wait on Manufacturers Use of its New Flexible Glass

Corning, the company that makes Gorilla Glass--the durable glass used in Apple's mobile products and those from a number of other manufacturers--has said that it will probably take three years before manufacturers start using its new flexible glass.

“People are not accustomed to glass you roll up,” Corning President James Tappin told Bloomberg. “The ability of people to take it and use it to make a product is limited."

Corning's latest product is called Willow, a flexible glass that can even rolled up like a newspaper.  Willow will allow manufacturers to build curved, flexible displays that will stand up to the punishment that mobile devices tend to suffer in the real world. The glass is expected to show up in simple products later this year, such as flexible guards for solar panels. The glass could be used in devices such as Google Glass, a wearable computer expected to be available in 2014.

Currently, Corning teaching some major technology firms how to handle the spools of the glass, with an eye toward eventually incorporating the glass into real products.

Corning's bread and butter is still Gorilla Glass, which was developed in the 1950s and shelved for lack of interest until Steve Jobs needed a durable and scratch-resistant glass for the touchscreen for Apple's iPhone. Ever since its debut in the iPhone, Gorilla Glass is used in smartphones and tablets from a variety of manufacturers, including Samsung and Sony.

Corning has recently launched the third generation of its popular product, promising an increase in scratch resistance and a decreased visibility of scratches that do occur.

"With Gorilla Glass 3, our scientists went to the atomic structure of the glass to fundamentally improve the way the glass responds to an impact or scratch," senior vice president and general manager for Corning Specialty Materials, Jeffery R. Steiner, said in a statement. "This solution significantly improves durability, while maintaining the thinness needed for touch-enabled consumer devices."

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

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