Corning (NYSE:GLW) may see its revenue grow as it attempts to capture the untapped market of cover glass for flexible displays. It recently announced its productive capability in a new technology to shape Gorilla Glass, a cover glass, into any three dimensional (3D) form. This enables Corning to mold Gorilla Glass into any shape and offer sturdy protection for flexible or curved displays. Though no date has been specified, the new 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass will be ready for commercial launch in 2014.  Gorilla Glass forms a part of Corning’s Specialty Materials segment.
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. Corning is also coming out with Gorilla glass applications in markerboards, automobiles and appliances.
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3D-shaped Gorilla Glass Offers A $3 Billion Opportunity For Corning
As per IHS, a leading research provider, the flexible display market is expected to grow to $41 billion by 2020.  This implies that the market for cover glass for flexible displays may be worth $12 billion by 2020, since cover glass accounts for 30% of the cost of a display.  Assuming that Corning is able to capture 25%-30% of this market with its first-mover advantage and just three other major players in the cover glass market as competition, this effectively presents an opportunity to generate an additional revenue of $3-3.6 billion by 2020.
Corning’s new glass forming technology also suggests that the company is trying to broaden its offering in the curved display market. In 2012, Corning entered the curved display market with Willow Glass, a thin flexible display glass. The 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass would be able to complement flexible displays like Willow Glass, and offer greater protection. The glass can be shaped to follow the curve of the wrist.
The curved display market for mobile phones, which is still at a very nascent stage, presents an opportunity for the 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass. At present, there are just two mobile phones offering curved displays, Samsung’s Galaxy Round and LG’s Flex, but neither of them have a protective glass. The 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass will be able to cater to such curved display mobile phones.
The 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass may also be used on wearable displays such as the rumored Apple watches.
Corning will establish vertically integrated operations in Taiwan to manufacture 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass
Corning will tie up with Taiwan based G-Tech Optoelectronics, an optical glass manufacturer, to establish a facility in Taiwan that would help integrate the entire manufacturing process for the 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass.  Instead of having to ship flat sheets of Gorilla glass to Taiwan and then shape it into different forms, which involves a lot of logistical complexity, this facility will enable Corning to manufacture and shape Gorilla Glass under one roof. Corning believes that this offers cost and time advantages which will also benefit its customers.Notes:
- Corning and GTOC Announce Manufacturing Readiness for 3D-Shaped Gorilla® Glass, January 3 2013, www.corning.com [↩] [↩]
- Flexible Display Market to Reach Nearly 800 Million Unit Shipments by 2020, June 5 2013, www.ihs.com [↩]
- Touch Panel Cover Glass Report, www.displaysearch.com [↩]