Production Facility Location
In the middle of BlueGrass and Bourbon Country, Harrodsburg Kentucky there resides Corning’s oldest glass factory.
Why built there?
This facility was built for atomic glass pressing in 1950s.
Then in the 1980s, there was a transformation to fusion forming process to make LCD glass.
How it became so popular
But before the first iPhone was released in 2007, Steve Jobs made a call to the CEO of Corning.
Steve asked him to create glass that could withstand scratches and breakage for a new Apple product.
Before that phones were typically covered in plastic.
Corning quickly developed Gorilla glass and this factory went through a complete transformation.
They changed their fusion forming technology to make Gorilla glass and its composition here in Harrodsburg.
Changing with times
Since 2007 the heirs of our client has gone a number of innovation of all of the Gorilla glasses.
It has transitioned to the stronger, more scratch resistant and more durable glass.
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See how its made
Robots and massive machines are continuously making glass 24/7 here.
Starts with a mix
It starts with a mix of materials that are sourced from all over the world. In the mix house, the start of Gorilla glass composition begins. So people may think that glass is just sand, but that isn’t true.
There is a lot of complex science that goes into the manufacturing of Gorilla Glass.
It is extremely important that the company have a strong and robust recipe.
Just think about how you make your cake at home.
Similar to that, they have fine-tuned and evolved the process for making glass over the decades.
Screw feeders take it to large bowls
What you can see in the facility are screw feeders and feeding systems that will take that material and transition it into a large bowl.
The mixture is made homogeneous
This mixture is then mixed so that the mixture is homogeneous.
Here a bag of the mixture would turn into thousands of Gorilla glasses which would secure your devices.
Sent to the giant oven
The raw material then travels up seven stories to the top of the factory where it enters the giant oven.
This oven is up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Corning has a market share of $11.4 Billion in 2018 glass shares.
This oven is a giant machine that melts the raw materials to hot molten glass over the course of days.
Flows down the trough
The lava-like glass flows down several stories while it cools and strengthens in a process called fusion forming.
Description of Corning’s fusion forming process
If you imagine a trough and the glass comes into the top of the trough and flows over the edges down to the point where it fuses down together.
It fuses together in the air and nothing touches that pristine surface as it transitions down multiple stories for the bottom of the process where it is then scored and separated into discrete sheets.
Advantages of fusion forming
The fusion forming process is capable of making the thickness of the glass over 2 millimetres down to a hundred microns which is just larger than the size of the strata prepared.
The glass comes out of the fusion process and the sheets that are cut are as big as 9 X 10 feet.
No human intervention
Only robots touch the glass throughout the process and they seldom make mistakes.
As the glass transitions to this final step before it gets shipped, the glass has never been touched by human hands.
Ready to be shipped
When it gets to this final step glass is laminated to protect it both from shipping and to allow their customers to handle the glass as they pull the sheets out of the crates.
The sheets are then transitioned into crates where they’re further packed and ensured that they’re in pristine condition.
Earlier in the fusion process of glass development, there were some manual steps but it was found that those manual steps could impose safety concerns to the Gorilla Glass.
So the robots were really developed to enhance the manufacturing process and to eliminate the safety involved in handling glass.
Now glass can be created from extremely thin (100 microns ) to 2 millimetres thick depending on the thickness of that glass.
It really determines how many sheets of glass should be packed in crates. Crates, in general, can have hundreds of sheets within one crate.
This leads to limited breakage of Gorilla glass sheets during shipping.
Once it’s loaded into crates, the glass is then shipped off for finishing which is done all over the world depending on the preference of the device manufacturer.
Quick Facts about Gorilla Glass
Gorilla glass is one of the toughest glasses out there and what makes it tough is not only what you see in the factory because it hasn’t obtained all of its strength at this point.
After it is packed and shipped, it goes through a chemical strengthening process called ion-exchange process
The composition which has been set up allows them to then take a finished sheet of glass.
Some Chemistry Involved
It is then put into a bath of hot salt. Sodium ions are exchanged for larger potassium ions in the glass.
Those larger potassium ions pack into that glass causing a much tighter and stronger compressive area on the glass.
This gives the glass its strength.
Corning employs 400 people at this factory who constantly work to manufacture the best glass for devices.
What makes Gorilla glass so strong?
It is its unique composition and glass science behind the glass.
This allows the company to create a compressive layer that when subjected to extreme creates really a layer of armour and adds an extra strength that other glasses are not capable of doing.
So this is all on how the Corning’s Gorilla Glass is made.