Corning has had much success in getting its Gorilla Glass adopted in the mobile market. It's used on Apple's iPhones and Samsung's Galaxy S4, among other devices.
Now the company has released a new version of its scratch-resistant product for touch-screen laptops.
Before doing so, Corning studied social media commentary about display screens, and what it found is that "there are more than twice as many complaints about scratches on notebook displays as there were on handhelds and tablets," said Paul Tompkins, Corning's director of business development for touch on notebooks.
One person who repairs laptops, Alexander G. Chamandy, managing member of Arlington Virginia Computer Repair, said that "current laptop screen technology is quite fragile, often breaking under a few pounds of pressure."
Corning this week said its new laptop product, Gorilla Glass NBT, incorporates the Gorilla Glass 3improvements announced earlier this year, improvements it says are twice as scratch resistant as its previous version.
The material includes what Corning calls Native Damage Resistance (NDR). With this technology, in a situation where an equal amount of pressure is applied, "you get more of a smooth grove than the edge chipping or fracturing," said Tompkins. Fracturing is what the eye sees, and so a scratch on the new glass may be less noticeable to a user.
Avoiding fracturing is also important because "that's the starting point where you could lead to breakage if you get enough flex there," said Tompkins.
This idea of guarding against fracturing is particularly relevant to the laptop market, where thin and light clamshell covers can easily bend depending on how they are held or stored, such as when they're stuffed in a tight backpack. "If you pick up a laptop on a corner, you can put significant stress on that glass surface," said Tompkins.
Chamandy said that screens generally break from physical damage, such as a drop, from accidentally being stepped on or by closing the lid with something inside the keyboard, such as a pen.
While Gorilla Glass can help with the surface of touchscreens to make them more resilient, "it will be interesting to see if the other elements of the screen are also improved to be more durable, such as the circuitry," said Chamandy.
The LCD controllers, said Chamandy, should experience the same sort of footprint shrinkage that other circuitry has. "This should in turn allow for a more ruggedized LCD enclosure to protect the circuitry that controls the display," he said. The main issue in regard to the LCD circuitry is physical damage to the back or side of the screen compromising the circuit board's physical integrity and affecting the display.
The Gorilla Glass will be mounted, or glued, to the front of the display, "but there's still not much defending the sides or back, leaving the circuitry exposed to physical damage," said Chamandy.
Chamandy says he still sees plenty of devices break that have Gorilla Glass, "but admittedly it is an improvement over its predecessors."
While Gorilla Glass has been used in laptops, such as the Google Chromebook Pixel, the NBT version is specifically designed for this market.
Replacing a laptop screen can cost from $150 to $300. The addition of Gorilla Glass could raise those repair costs, said Chamandy.
One vendor, Dell, announced this week that it plans to incorporate Gorilla Glass NBT into its new devices this fall.
This article, Corning's newest Gorilla Glass aims to protect fragile laptop screens, was originally published at Computerworld.com.
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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