Apple is awarding US$45 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to Corning, a supplier of precision glass for iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad. The funding will expand Corning’s manufacturing capacity in the US and drive research and development into innovative new technologies that support durability and long-lasting product life, building on both Apple and Corning’s deep commitment to protecting the environment.
Corning has already received US$450 million from Apple’s US$5 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund over the last four years. Apple’s investment helps support more than 1,000 jobs across Corning’s US operations in Kentucky and other facilities. The investment has also helped facilitate research and development into state-of-the-art glass processes, which led to the creation of Ceramic Shield, a new material that is tougher than any smartphone glass.
“Apple and Corning have a long history of working together to accomplish the impossible,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer. “From the very first iPhone glass, to the revolutionary Ceramic Shield on the iPhone 12 line-up, our collaboration has changed the landscape of smartphone cover design and durability. Ceramic Shield is a prime example of the technologies that are possible when deep innovation meets the power of American manufacturing. We’re so proud to work alongside Corning, whose 170-year-old legacy is a testament to the ingenuity of the US workforce.”
With support from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund, experts at both companies worked together to develop a new glass-ceramic, which gets its strength from nano-ceramic crystals, produced in Corning’s plant in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, the facility where every generation of iPhone glass has been made.
The new material was enabled by a high-temperature crystallisation step which forms nano-crystals within the glass matrix. Those specialised crystals are kept small enough that the material is transparent. The resulting material makes up the revolutionary Ceramic Shield, which Apple used to fashion the new front cover featured on iPhone in the iPhone 12 line-up. Prior to Ceramic Shield, embedded crystals have traditionally affected the material’s transparency, a crucial factor for the front cover of iPhone because so many features, including the display, the camera and sensors for Face ID, need optical clarity to function.
“We are incredibly proud of our collaboration with Apple on Ceramic Shield, made possible in part through the Advanced Manufacturing Fund and the hard work and dedication of hundreds of individuals at Corning and Apple,” said Wendell P. Weeks, Corning’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We thank Apple for our longstanding product-development partnership and for its continued commitment to supporting the American workforce. The deep investment they’ve provided for new manufacturing technology in our Harrodsburg, Kentucky, facility is not only fuelling life-changing innovation, it’s also helping us sustain vital communities where we live and work – a fundamental objective at both of our companies. Together, we’re developing a world-class workforce, engaging them in new technologies and creating opportunities for learning and training.”