Report: flexible glass display products still three years away

Report: flexible glass display products still three years away

Summary: Customers still figuring how to handle spools of glass rather than sheets.

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TOPICS: iPad, Apple, Google, iPhone
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Products that use the flexible displays touted as a candidate screen for the rumoured Apple iWatch could still be years away.

Corning, the maker of Gorilla Glass displays used in the iPhone and other smart devices, showed off its 0.1 mm thick Willow Glass flexible displays at this year's CES conference. 

While the roll up glass material exists, the main obstacle to it landing in consumer products like an iWatch, or more generally, smartphones, is a manufacturing one.

Customers are still being educated on how to handle spools of glass in manufacturing rather than the current sheet-to-sheet process for glass, according to a senior Corning executive.

"People are not accustomed to glass you roll up," James Clappin, president of Corning Glass Technologies said in an interview with Bloomberg. "The ability of people to take it and use it to make a product is limited." 

Corning launched Willow Glass last June, promising a new material, but also more efficient manufacturing methods due to the ability to roll it up on spools. Applications included portable electronics, solar cells and lighting. 

Clappin said the glass may appear in some consumer products this year, but that could include as lighter weight backplanes, colour filters and protectors for OLED and LCD displays.

The manufacturing challenges Clappin outlined may put a dampener on expectations for Apple's rumoured iWatch, at least if it relies on flexible rather than rigid curved glass, which were both outlined as options in a recent patent filing

While Google is developing its Google Glass project in the public, Apple characteristically is keeping its plans under tight wraps. In an effort to quell investor fears over Apple's falling share price, Apple CEO Tim Cook this week told investors that Apple was eyeing "new categories", but the immediate candidate here is an Apple TV.  

Topics: iPad, Apple, Google, iPhone

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • People are not accustomed to glass you roll up

    Are you kidding.... so it's glass... what's the difference in the procedure than a roll of toilet paper.. most people are accustomed to that, or maybe not where you live?

    Make a pen with a pull out 5-7 inch screen that locks, when in use....
    broblk@...