Future HDTVs May Use Stronger & Thinner Gorilla Glass

Jonathan Sutton

More and more flat-panel HDTVs in the future will be equipped with an ultra-strong and scratch-resistant type of glass – dubbed “Gorilla Glass” – identical to that found on the screens of tablet PCs and smartphones such as the Dell Streak and Motorola Droid X, if an American glass manufacturer is to have its way.

Corning Incorporated – the New-York-based manufacturer of glass, ceramics and related industrial materials with sales exceeding $5 billion globally over the last couple of years – has dug into its archive of designed materials, and relabelled one such 1962 invention as “Gorilla Glass” in the hopes of persuading various manufacturers to use it in gadgets requiring a strong, durable and thin glass screen. Having landed its first customer 2 years ago, Gorilla Glass has found its way onto the screens of a number of smartphones and tablet computers, and accounts for $170 million worth of business for Corning annually.

Flat-screen high-definition televisions could be the next big item to sport Corning’s Gorilla Glass. Already the leading maker of glass used in LCD TVs, monitors and laptops, the company is currently working hard to sign up Korean and Japanese TV manufacturers, which could see the first Gorilla-protected HDTVs appearing on the market as early as year 2011.

According to scientists at Corning, the chemically strengthened Gorilla Glass is twice to 3 times as strong as the much more commonly used soda-lime glass. Its incredible strength and durability allows for not only thinner and lighter glass panels (which in turn could cut down on shipping costs due to the reduced weight), but also sexy frameless designs that are free of bezels.

For cost and logistics benefits, Corning will be relocating its Gorilla-Glass-manufacturing business to Asia (where most HD TVs are made) by investing several hundred million dollars to retrofit an existing LCD plant in Shizuoka, Japan. Obviously optimistic in securing deals with TV-making partners, the Japanese plant will employ a few hundred workers, and will start producing the super-strong Gorilla Glass sometime in fall this year.

Paul Gagnon, director of the North America TV Research division at DisplaySearch, predicts that using Gorilla Glass on a HDTV set would add $30 to $60 (£19 to £38) to the price.