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King Kong of glass gets second life

Post Time:Oct 21,2008Classify:Glass QuotationView:1095

Gorilla glass, introduced by Corning Inc. earlier this year for use in hand-held and touch-screen devices, was no overnight success.

In fact, the new thin-sheet glass - it comes in thicknesses of 0.7 millimeters to 2.0 millimeters - is a direct descendant of Chemcor, a high-strength glass developed by Corning in the 1950s and 1960s. Chemcor was the result of a now legendary challenge issued in the late-1950s by Corning President Bill Decker to research chief Bill Armistead. "Glass breaks," Decker said. "Why don´t you fix that?" Armistead´s effort to "fix that," which was highly successful from a scientific point of view, was known as "Project Muscle."

It developed Chemcor, a glass that would not break when bombarded with frozen chickens (that´s right, frozen chickens) or dropped from nine stories onto a steel plate. But from a marketing standpoint, Chemcor was a flop. The makers of safety glasses didn´t want it. The makers of automobile windshields didn´t want it. (The only production model that used it was American Motors´ Javelin). None of Corning´s target markets responded to the innovation.

Some of the processes used in developing Chemcor later proved valuable in the creation of successful Corning products such as Corelle dinner ware. But Chemcor itself never resulted in a viable business. So Chemcor was put aside - a laboratory success but a commercial failure. Then along came the manufacturers of cell phones, looking for a new, tougher, scratch-resistant material to use in their liquid crystal displays. Corning researchers responded by taking another look at Chemcor.

A project team reformulated the glass in a near-record three months for use in cell phones and in hand-held devices  - such products as the iPhone - that function with touch screens. Gorilla glass debuted earlier this year at the Society for Information Display conference in Los Angeles. Some 90 potential customers inquired there about the use of the product in cell phones, notebook computers, GPS devices, portable music players and smart phones. It´s unlikely that frozen chickens played any role in refining Chemcor for its new role in the 21st century. But Corning Inc. hopes the new glass will become the 800-pound gorilla of the market for screens in hand-held communications devices.

Source: Corning Inc.Author: shangyi

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