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Written by Colin Athens

As described by its name, Corning’s Gorilla Glass is two to three times stronger than regular glass. The material is also lightweight, thin, highly scratch resistant, and manufactured from environmentally friendly materials. Recently, Gorilla Glass has been used on the latest smart phones, such as the iPhone 4G by Apple, which utilizes the material on both sides of the phone. 

Corning’s Gorilla Glass is an alkali-aluminosilicate thin sheet glass, which is thinner and lighter-weight than any other protective glass. It comes as thin as 0.5mm, and is produced by a proprietary fusion-draw process, then given a chemical strengthening process. Gorilla glass is two to three times stronger than chemically strengthened versions of regular soda-lime glass, which are twice as thick. It opposes scratching and dings, and therefore represses damage zones that would lead to breakage and failure of other glass types. Its ultra-thin capacity allows Corning to save on weight and shipping costs.

Originally developed in the 1960’s as part of Corning’s research project, “Project Muscle”, the result was a glass named Chemcor. Chemcor was developed in hope of replacing ordinary glass in windshields. However, a cheaper manufacturing process soon displaced Chemcor. Instead, Chemcor was utilized in the pharmaceutical industry until the 1990’s. In 2006, Corning realized the market potential for glass screens for mobile devices. Shortly thereafter, Corning renamed Chemcor to Gorilla Glass. Two innovative and crucial compositional developments were implemented in the product’s design before the new glass was ready for mass marketing. A few years later in 2009, Corning began to market Gorilla Glass to the brands, such as LG, Samsung, Motion Computing, and Dell.

Corning acquired its first customer in 2008, and has very quickly become a $170 million-a-year business. The company has reported a 23% increase in sales during the past eight months. In response to this huge increase, Corning has ramped up production of Gorilla glass at its plant in Harrodsburg, Kentucky by approving $180 million in capital expenditures to expand the plant. With growing demand for the product, the company plans to invest around $800 million to construct a new LCD glass substrate facility in China. The company is also retooling an LCD plant in Shizuoka, Japan, to add Gorilla glass production in Asia.

Gorilla Glass has been manufactured in the screens of 40 million-plus cell phones and other mobile devices. According to the official Corning website, Gorilla Glass is used in over 100 devices and is carried by 19 major brands. Corning’s president, James P. Clappin, says that Corning is “on track to reach sales in excess of $250 million this year, and sales could approach the $1 billion mark in 2011." The company is also looking to tackle the tablet market in addition to the HDTV market in the late stages of 2010.

 


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