Corning's Gorilla Glass has become practically synonymous with smartphones over the years. It has always been highly scratch resistant and just a bit tougher in drops than most of the competition, and the latest flagship in the series, Gorilla Glass 5, even helps to make Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 pretty darn tough. Back in 2015, Corning struck out on a research project dedicated to something else entirely. Called Project Phire, the project was centered around research into smaller glass substrates with some of the same properties as Gorilla Glass, mainly meant to give Corning an in to the wearable market. That project has finally come to fruition today, giving manufacturers the new Gorilla Glass SR+.
The newly announced variant of Gorilla Glass makes a number of improvements over its older contemporaries, all laser-focused on wearables. The headline feature of the new type of Gorilla Glass is resistance to physical scratches that, according to Corning, is "approaching that of alternative luxury cover materials". On top of this beefed up scratch resistance, users will find about 25% less glare than other types of Gorilla Glass, and impact resistance about 75% better. Meant to provide an alternative to more expensive materials like various crystals and the much-hyped sapphire screens, Gorilla Glass SR+ is tailor-made for wearables with an incredible feature set for the price.
The long feature list and pricing to put comparable materials to shame is made possible by Corning's in-house fusion process. A special V-shaped vat plays host to the materials that go into the glass, keeping them hot enough to flow evenly and openly. The special vat directs the streams to create two thin, trickling sheets that cascade over the sides and downward. They meet in midair, filling in micro-cracks and bubbles, and thus allowing the substrate to be more stable during the cooling, drawing, and forming processes, which take place dangling in mid-air from the bottom of the vat. This prevents micro-tears and cracks that eventually end up as a cracked device in a user's pocket. Corning's special process produces glass that is very flat, of a uniform thickness, and which is able to go directly to packaging, skipping many of the more expensive post-processing steps like polishing, and is scalable to meet manufacturer demands. This means that when orders start pouring in for Gorilla Glass SR+, Corning will have no trouble keeping up.