Bending the rules | Automotive Glass Interiors | Corning Gorilla Glass

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Corning® Gorilla® Glass offers automakers an affordable way to turn flat interior surfaces into smart curves 

Enormous sheets of hot, ultra-thin glass form in mid-air. They’re perfectly flat.

But once cooled and finished, they can bend easily over a curved car dashboard or center console. They can dip in and gently arch out, fitting firmly in place to form sleek, interactive surfaces where there was once nothing but leather and chrome.

Drivers suddenly find themselves surrounded by beautiful displays that respond instantly to touch, voice, and movement. What’s more, the surfaces are seamlessly connected to the smart devices already in their pockets and homes.

Forward-thinking automakers around the world are creating that scenario today. And they’re doing it more quickly than many may have predicted, thanks in large part to the cost-effectiveness of working with Corning® Gorilla® Glass for Automotive Interiors.

Why Gorilla Glass?
If you see a curved display surface, you might assume its glass surface was molded into the proper 3D shape while still hot. That’s an expensive proposition, requiring precision alignment. Even a millimeter of variance could render the hot-formed cover unusable.

Gorilla Glass, on the other hand, is so thin and tough that it can bend all on its own, conforming precisely to the curved surface without heat. The bend radius can be concave or convex, dramatic or subtle.

And the same sheet of glass can provide multiple bends, creating beautiful and complex 3D designs – all at room temperature, and all without sacrificing any of the renowned Gorilla Glass toughness or optical clarity.

This cold-forming capability opens up countless new design possibilities.  Surface treatments like anti-reflective and anti-glare coatings –essential for readability on a car display – can be applied to Gorilla Glass while it’s still flat. Screen printing, inkjet decorating, and easy-to-clean finishes are becoming popular choices, too. Because of the simplicity of cutting, preparing, and shipping the flat sheets, Gorilla Glass brings automakers significant cost savings over conventional hot-formed glass.

Bringing consumers what they want
In building these remarkable displays into their interiors, automakers are following consumer demand. Here’s what drivers are asking for right now – and how Gorilla Glass fills the need:

They want seamless connectivity – constant synchronization between mobile devices, home information and entertainment systems, and traditional driving information.

Gorilla Glass brings to auto interiors the same capacitive touch experience – with brilliant displays and rapid response -- that it’s brought to consumer electronics for more than a decade. And the damage resistance of Gorilla Glass keeps displays looking showroom-new for years, with glistening surfaces and none of the yellowing or warping associated with plastics.

That seamless control of information is likely to become even more important in the years ahead. 

They want a safe car interior, with technology that can withstand traffic mishaps and everyday use.

Gorilla Glass interiors regularly exceed new industry safety standards on module Headform-Impact Tests (HITs). The aggressive tests simulate the impact of a crash by swinging a 15-pound aluminum “head” against a glass-covered interior display at 24 mph. Under industry standards, the glass is allowed to break as long as it doesn’t create shards that could lacerate passengers.  Corning’s display module performs better than the standard, going through testing with no breakage at all.

They want to be able to see all displays clearly, regardless of ambient sunlight streaming into the car.

Gorilla Glass addresses this need with surface treatments that improve visibility and add extraordinary new functionality. An ultra-thin, inorganic film can reduce light reflection from sunlight glare and reflection. At the same time, it enhances color fidelity for the entire visible spectrum. An added bonus: These surface treatments make the glass both resistant to fingerprints and easy to clean. With all that touchscreen activity – and the rising trend toward carsharing - that’s an important feature.

They want a beautiful and sculptural aesthetic, all without abrupt geometric edges that would distract from the free-flowing design.

This is where Gorilla Glass truly shines. The cold-form approach, of course, enables a unique 3D aesthetic and the curves drivers crave. Designers have new opportunities to bring recessed displays out of the shadows and integrate screens harmoniously in ways that just weren’t possible before.

 But part of the beauty is in the material itself. When you touch glass, it just feels good. It’s cool and authentic. There’s no drag on your finger. It invites interaction, and makes the inside of the car just as beautiful as the outside.

Taking it on the road
French automaker Renault put Gorilla Glass in the spotlight at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show. Renault’s stunning concept car, SYMBIOZ, featured an oversized curved display covered in Gorilla Glass – enabled by Corning’s cold-form approach. The sleek surface and contemporary design fit perfectly into Renault’s vision of car-as-living-room.

SYMBIOZ offers an appealing glimpse of the new design sensibility we’ll see in tomorrow’s autonomous vehicles. But it also reflects more near-term trends – like connectivity and aesthetic appeal – that are leading automakers to choose Gorilla Glass today.

In 2016, Gorilla Glass was part of just two new-car models. One year later, it was part of 20 – with momentum building for the luxurious designs to go mainstream.

Michael Kunigonis, vice president and general manager of Corning Automotive Glass Solutions, believes the ability to cold-form 3D displays is one key reason that curved interior displays are on the rise.

“To move beyond luxury models and into everyday vehicles, 3D displays have to be affordable,” he said. “Cold-forming with Gorilla Glass helps make that possible, and represents a real advancement for the automotive industry.”