Friday, June 29, 2012

Plastic-Like Glass Revolutionizes In How It’s Made

Corning's Willow Glass is light, felxible and
Made in the USA.
With all the new innovations and inventions happening out there today, it’s easy to overlook the comparatively underestimated but nonetheless crucial instances of making existing products or operations better.  Take plastic behemoth Corning Inc., whose announcement in early June of their new Willow Glass design drew praise not just for the invention, but for how the product will positively affect Corning’s bottom-line.  

 Looking more like a sheet of plastic than glass, the Willow Glass is extremely flexible, enabling it to wrap around a device or display rather than fit into a slot.  This feature alone already makes the product incredibly cost-efficient.  Willow Glass is 100 microns thick, about as thin as paper, and yet can still be used for hermetic sealing while still withstanding normal weathering.  Clearly Corning invested in this product with the intention of being used in future smartphone and similar products where touch-sensor technology comes into play. 

 The real innovation, according to division VP and program director Dr. Dipak Chowdury is how Corning’s Willow Glass can be made.  As Chowdury tells it, “Currently manufacturing in a sheet-to-sheet process, we expect Corning Willow Glass to eventually allow customers to switch to high-throughput, efficient roll-to-roll processing, a long-awaited industry milestone.”  Roll-to-roll processing means the glass can be continuously rolled out like newspapers in a printing press, an adjustment to the production line that is sure to revolutionize the industry.

It’s not exactly a development that’ll beat the Election in media time, but it’s a great example of real changes in manufacturing that, when they start to pile up, amount to real savings in costs and time.  You can see a video of how Willow Glass is made here.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clp Company.

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