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Wednesday, 05 March 2014 11:58

Apple's new glass is rubbish

Written by Nick Farrell



Corning executive foams at the mouth about sapphire

While the tame Apple Press gets all moist about the fruity cargo cults sapphire crystal as a display material, it seems that others in the glass industry have other views. Tony Tripeny, a senior vice president at Corning Glass slammed sapphire crystal as a display material in an obvious dig at Apple. To be fair, Corning makes Gorilla Glass so it is not going to say something nice about Apple going to a rival material, but Tripney's response does create a few questions for those who might have shares in Jobs’ Mob.

Sapphire is 10 times more expensive, 1.6 times heavier, environmentally unfriendly, takes about 100 times more energy to generate a Sapphire crystal, transmits less and it breaks. Tripeny said that while Sapphire is scratch resistant Corning testing says that Gorilla Glass can take about 2.5 times more pressure before it breaks.  

“So when we look at it, we think from an overall industry and trend that is not attractive in consumer electronics,” he said.

Tripeny added that if round crystal manufacturing was a business that was attractive to enter into, we certainly would be able to do it. He said that it was too expensive to make because the formation takes about 4,000 times longer than Gorilla Glass at a significantly higher melting temperature. Its hardness makes machining more difficult and costly. Then the cost per unit increases exponentially because when you have defects in boundaries in the crystal growth process, you essentially cut them out.

“Unlike glass, where we have developed technologies so that we can have [a] very large pristine pieces of glass, when you have that on crystals, what you end up doing is always having a yield issue. So it is really those items that make things more expensive,” he said.

Nick Farrell

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