(November 4, 2010) TV makers know consumers consider three factors: price, performance and design when purchasing a new flat panel TV. To improve styling in 2010,   TV manufacturers decided to enhance the appearance of their LCD TVs with “cover glass” which creates a smooth flat front. A number of  makers including [amazonify]B0035ER1N2::text::::Sony[/amazonify], [amazonify]B0001YH7JW::text::::LG[/amazonify] and [amazonify]B00447I8Y0::text::::Toshiba[/amazonify]  offer models that use a full sheet of tempered glass to protect and cover their LCD flat screens giving them a very sleek, highly styled appearance. Corning Inc. plans to offer a significant alternative to tempered glass covers they call Gorilla Glass.

Currently Corning Inc. is a major producer of glass used in the production of LCD panel modules called mother glass. Its new product, Gorilla Glass for TVs is a very tough, strong, scratch resistant glass.  A smaller version is available in 240 hand held devices including the Droid smart phone and Acer Aspire 8943G laptop.  TV makers plan to introduce Gorilla Glass covered TVs on select 2011 LCD flat panels this coming January.

To learn more, I spoke with John Bayne, Director of Corning Glass Works TV cover glass program. He discussed the advantages of Gorilla Glass over standard tempered glass. Bayne explained how thermally tempered soda lime glass differs significantly from the new TV Gorilla Glass (GG). Instead of soda lime for tempering, Corning uses an exclusive process infuse the glass surface under pressure with potassium nitrate ions 40-45 microns into the glass, which strengthens it . The result, a cover glass that withstands Underwriters Labs 500 gram ball drop test without breakage. Sets using GG can withstand common impacts like flying Wii remotes, a sure fire destroyer for an unprotected LCD panel. Conventional tempered glass requires a film coating to prevent flying glass shards if the panel glass breaks during the 500 gram ball drop test.

Gorilla Glass accomplishes incredibly high strength with a thickness of just one millimeter. By comparison current tempered glass cover glass is far thicker (2.5mm-3mm), adding extra weight and associated shipping costs to the LCD TV.  For instance a 55″ LCD TV using Gorilla Glass is 8.5 lbs. lighter than one that uses thermally tempered glass.  Plus GG is inherently more damage resistant than other cover materials, though it is not unbreakable.

Set makers using GG have the options of adding an anti-reflective (AR) glass coating, applying an AR or anti-glare film to the glass or a new Corning developed anti-glare etching process directly to the Gorilla Glass.

On the green side, Corning’s GG permits set makers to eliminate the traditional plastic screen bezel and logo on the display. Manufacturers can simply print a bezel and logo to the back of the glass or AR film, saving raw materials and making the TV lighter.

Gorilla Glass also provides a number of styling options for TV designers. They can opt to make the glass flush with the edge of the display or extend it beyond. The two photos are Corning prototype designs for future HDTVs. Set makers will be introducing their respective TV models using Gorilla Glass at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show in early January 2011. HD Guru will be there to cover the event.

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