Corning Gorilla Glass, a protective cover glass used in consumer electronics such as mobiles, tablets and notebooks to protect display screens, will also be used for the interior windows of BMW’s i8 sports car.
Corning generated 15% of its overall revenues in 2013 from sales of Gorilla Glass, which is a part of its Specialty Materials portfolio. Gorilla Glass is a protective cover glass used in consumer electronics such as mobiles, tablets and notebooks to protect display screens. It is scratch resistant and highly durable compared to traditional display glass, and is now used on more than 1,100 product models across 33 major brands. Mobile phone manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung, and tablet and notebook manufacturers like Dell and HP use Gorilla Glass for many of their devices.
Since its invention, the application of Gorilla Glass has been limited to consumer electronics. However, it has started to gain some popularity in the automotive industry. This new application will open up an entirely new revenue stream for Corning and will help boost revenues.
Corning had recently announced that BMW will be using Gorilla Glass for the interior windows of its i8 sports car. The glass will act as an acoustic barrier against unwanted noise. Due to its strength and light weight, BMW saw Gorilla Glass as an optimal solution. Other automotive companies have also been looking into the use of Gorilla Glass in windshields and sunroofs. Corning has collaborated with Pittsburgh Glass Works, a manufacturer of automotive glass, which will help in expanding Gorilla Glass’ reach to more mainstream vehicles and in higher numbers.
Presently, the consumer electronics industry consumes around 0.9 billion square feet of Gorilla Glass, up from around 0.5 billion square feet in 2011. The use of Gorilla Glass in the automotive industry opens up an opportunity to tap into the 5.5 billion square feet demand for automotive glass. If Corning manages to capture 5% of this market, it could see its Specialty Materials segment revenue grow by around 25%.
However, there is immense competition in the industry with many international and local players. In addition, for its application in automobiles, Gorilla Glass is used as a laminate over soda lime, the technology for which is at a very nascent stage and would require a considerable time to be perfected to be produced at a larger scale. Therefore, to truly realize any significant revenue from the use of Gorilla Glass in automobiles, Corning believes that it might take another three to four years.