Corning Hints At Gorilla Glass With Sapphire-Like Scratch Resistance
Corning, the maker of Gorilla Glass displays, is developing a new material which will combine the firmness of Gorilla and the scratch-resistance of a sapphire. Gorilla Glass displays are seen as an important feature in Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.
The Gorilla Glass-like composite is currently being coined Project Phire, and was announced on Friday at a New York investor meeting by Corning CEO James Clappin. He also said that the company plans to start selling the material later this year.
“We told you last year that sapphire was great for scratch performance but didn’t fare well when dropped,” Clappin told the crowd at the event. “So, we created a product that offers the same superior damage resistance and drop performance of Gorilla Glass 4 with scratch resistance that approaches sapphire.”
Corning has been generating most of its revenues from glass for TV displays and fiber-optics, but Gorilla Glass became the flagship product for the company. The material is now the “hot cakes” in the mobile market, fronting about 3 billion electronics, including the premium releases of 2014 – iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy Note Edge and Galaxy Note 4.
However, Gorilla Glass was on its toes for most of last year when Apple considered switching from Gorilla to synthetic sapphire which is an extremely tough material, difficult to scratch. But GT advanced Technologies, the sapphire maker company Apple spent millions of dollars on, announced bankruptcy and cut off the deal with Apple.
This however, exposed a weakness in the Gorilla Glass that though it may not break, it scratches much more easily. So Corning worked on a glass display that caters to scratch resistance as well, to make it invincible. Project Phire would help preventing companies in the future from snatching its position as the top display maker for smartphones and devices.
Moreover, Project Phire could help Corning establish itself more firmly in the smartwatch market, where Gorilla is already being used in Samsung products and Motorola Moto 360.
Corning has repeatedly claimed that sapphire is a poor choice for glass displays in mobile devices because it shatters easily when dropped. However, Project Phire shows that Corning has now moved past the claims, showing how scratch resistance is as important as breaking prevention.
Corning unveiled Gorilla Glass 4 in November last year, which offers twice the toughness of its predecessor, Gorilla Glass 3. It can also be made 25 percent thinner, yet will have the same damage resistance as a thicker slice of Gorilla Glass 3.