It was June of last year that Corning unveiled its upcoming product that has the potential to revolutionize the way we look at displays. The name of the product is Willow Glass which is characterized by being ultra-thin and flexible. According to the company “Corning Gorilla Glass will enable thin, light and cost-efficient applications including today’s slim displays and smart surfaces of the future. The thinness, strength, and flexibility of the glass has the potential to enable displays to be ‘wrapped’ around a device or structure.”
Corning’s initial plan was for the Willow glass to be available for consumer products this year however in a story published in Bloomberg the company has pushed back the timeframe to 2016 at the very earliest.
According to James Clappin, president of Corning Glass Technologies, the problem is not on their end but on the companies that will be using this product. They haven’t come up with products yet that can take full advantage of the features of the Willow Glass. Because of this, Corning is teaching big name industry players on how to properly handle the material. “People are not accustomed to glass you roll up. The ability of people to take it and use it to make a product is limited.”
The main issue is how to bring this flexible glass to the manufacturing line. The traditional equipment used in making displays is a roll to roll process which does not work using this type of glass. Dipak Chowdry, a Corning Vice President, has been working with several manufacturers to mass produce this glass on existing manufacturing lines.
Just last month Apple was reportedly interested in Samsung’s flexible OLED display. Combining this with Corning’s Willow Glass will create devices with curved surfaces. Apple has been using Corning Gorilla Glass for its iPhone and iPad line and it won’t be a surprise if they will also be using the upcoming Willow Glass.