Apple has already awarded $450 million from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund, and today it announced an additional $45 million investment. Apple says that its prior funding helped Corning to develop the resilient and durable Ceramic Shield glass, which debuted as the cover glass in the iPhone 12.
It remains unclear whether Corning’s supply of Ceramic Shield glass is an exclusive deal, or if its research will be extended to other phone manufacturers in the future. The press release says the strengthened glass-ceramic was a result of collaborative research by Apple and Corning experts.
Corning produces all the glass for the iPhone out of a factory in Kentucky. The $5bn+ Advanced Manufacturing Fund is targeted at helping manufacturing firms inside of the United States, in the form of upfront purchase orders and investment. Corning supports over 1,000 jobs across the United States.
Apple last week announced an additional $410 million investment in II-VI, the company that produces VCSEL lasers — an essential component of the TrueDepth camera system for Face ID.
In a statement, Apple COO Jeff Williams reflected on the company’s long partnership with Corning.
“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 lineup, 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.”
Originally, the first iPhone was shown off with a plastic display. However, Steve Jobs noticed that the prototypes were being easily scratched when in pockets. Within a few months of the iPhone’s release in June 2007, Apple leaned on Corning to mass produce scratch-resistant ‘Gorilla Glass’ to be used for the iPhone’s screen instead of a plastic cover. Apple has utilized Corning glass for every iPhone model since.
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