Apple today announced an additional $45 million from the Advanced Manufacturing Fund to Corning, its longtime supplier of iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch glass, on top of $200 million in 2017 and $250 million in 2019. The total investment of $495 million will support Corning's continued research and development of "state of the art glass processes," which led to the creation of Ceramic Shield, a new material that is stronger than any smartphone glass.
"Apple and Corning have a long history of working together to do the impossible," said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer. From the earliest iPhone glass to the revolutionary Ceramic Shield for the iPhone 12 series, our collaboration has changed the landscape for smartphone casing design and durability. The Ceramic Shield is a prime example of what is possible when deep innovation meets the power of American manufacturing. "We are proud to work with Corning, whose 170-year heritage is a testament to the wisdom of the American workforce."
With support from Apple's Advanced Manufacturing Fund, experts from the two companies worked together to develop a new glassy ceramic, whose strength comes from nanoscale ceramic crystals, manufactured at Corning's factory in Harrod-burg, Ky., which produces every generation of iPhone glass.
The new material is achieved through a high-temperature crystallization process, in which nanocrystals are formed in a glass matrix. These special crystals are kept small enough that the material is transparent. The resulting material forms the revolutionary Ceramic Shield, which Apple used to shape the new front cover in the iPhone 12 series. Before the Ceramic Shield, embedded crystals traditionally affected the transparency of materials, a key factor for the iPhone's front cover because many features, including the display, camera and Face ID sensors, require optical clarity to function.
Apple's Advanced Manufacturing Fund was established in 2017 to "promote and support innovative production and high-skilled jobs and help propel a new era of technology-driven manufacturing in the United States," according to Apple.