With specialty glass, it's the science – and ongoing innovation – that solves difficult problems
What is Specialty Glass?
First created as early as 2000 B.C. in the form of decorative beads, glass has long been the standard material for containers, windows, and other essential items in daily life. The vast majority of glass produced in the world remains in this category – mostly from similar soda-lime compositions with a focus on low-cost mass production.
Specialty glass, on the other hand, applies science to the craft of glassmaking. Deep research, relentless experimentation, and constant innovation help improve scientists’ understanding of the fundamental nature of glass down to the molecular level. In so doing, they can exploit the versatility of the material and offer glass-based solutions to some of industry’s toughest problems.
Consider, for example, the pressure on the electronics industry a decade ago to transition to environmentally friendly LCD glass – a material free of heavy metals that could contaminate the earth when computers, TVs, and other devices reached the end of their useful lives. The challenge was enormous for specialty glass makers like Corning since it eliminated elements like antimony, barium, and arsenic – all previously essential ingredients in the making of LCD substrates. The company’s top scientific minds devised a new glass composition that met the new requirements and still enabled brilliant images. Just as importantly, they created a painstakingly accurate melting process to go along with it. The result: EAGLE XG® glass, the first environmentally friendly glass for the LCD industry.
Scientific exploration of glass – and thus, the creation of specialty glass -- is still a relatively new endeavor. Over the 4,000-year lifespan of glass as a material, science entered into the glassmaking picture less than 350 years ago, with the work of 17th-century alchemists. Hundreds of years passed between significant innovations in specialty glass.
It wasn’t until companies like Corning began investing in dedicated research and development that specialty glass became a powerful force in shaping industries and transforming lives.
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