Fast Company

Dragontrail vs. Gorilla: The Super Tough Glass Game Is On

dragontrail glass

The touchscreen mobile device business is getting tougher--in more ways than one. Japan's Asahi glass has a new super-tough material called Dragontrail that's aiming to steal some of Corning Gorilla's market.

Ashai is Japan's biggest glassmaker, and it just launched the new Dragontrail material with a fair amount of pomp and circumstance in Japan. The glass is said to be six times stronger than conventional glass, stronger than typical window soda-lime glass and has a "beautiful, pristine finish," according to press materials. It can directly resist scratches (reporters at the event invited to try to damage a sample with a key) and a small, millimeter-thin sample can stand up to 60 kilos of weight by bending before breaking. Check out the demonstration video below:

Asahi is really confident in its product, and expects it to earn well over $350 million of revenue when it's settled into the market in 2012. Ultimately, it hopes to capture up to 30% of its market.

This is no small sum, but it's dwarfed by some expectations for Asahi's big competitor, Corning, with its similar Gorilla glass material, a stressed alkali-aluminosilicate glass that's used on the iPhone and other high-profile devices. Gorilla's 2011 revenues may reach $1 billion.

One big factor driving this new market are the ever-increasing number of portable gadgets we own. Not only do we now carry more digital electronics around with us, but thanks to innovations like the iPhone these gizmos are sporting larger and larger screens--making them more vulnerable to damage by accidental drops or the display-wrecking effects of a scratch caused by sliding a phone into a pocket full of urban detritus. Toughened safety glass that also possesses high optical quality (needed for today's tablet PCs and smartphones) can prevent a lot of this damage.

It also allows bold design decisions to be tried out: like Apple's iPhone 4, which relies on glass for some of its structural rigidity, and the thinness of the tough glass to bring the LCD closer to the user's finger for a more satisfying touchscreen experience. We also suspect that new super-strong, glass-like materials may one day be used to make devices in their entirety.

Two interesting side effects to all this: the glass industry gets a jolt and our future gadgets will be more damage-proof and come in increasingly innovative shapes.

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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  • Ljamesretuya

    my current nokia phone sports corning's gorilla glass and after more than a year of usage, half of which i did not use any screen protector, there is literally not a single scratch on the surface of the glass. i've dropped my phone numerous times with one particular instance owing to a gust of wind from a recent super typhoon but the glass remains clear and devoid of any marks. i'm seriously impressed with the gorilla glass. 

    i'm contemplating buying a local smartphone that sports the dragontrail glass and i hope it's going to be just as tough if not tougher than the gorilla glass i've experienced. 

  • Cowenprice

    Innovations like the iPhone? The iPhone was in no way innovative it was just Apple's aggressive marketing of it, which wasn't innovative either...

  • Zexel

    You better get your facts straight. There is nothing to support that the Iphone4 has gorilla glass or equivalent.  Take a look here  Other than other misinformed web sites I don't see anywhere on Corning http://www.corninggorillaglass... or Apple's§ion=iphone&geo=us sites to support the Iphone4 uses Gorilla Glass or an equivalent?  Post it if you can find the proof. Here's a little reporting advice though "go to the horses mouth". Not just any tech website will do.  Did you learn anything in college? Or is your main source still wikipedia?  Do better research instead of going off of heresay.  Bad reporting. Makes me wonder if you have anything right in this article.

  • Andrew Krause

    Is anyone else not missing the obvious - bullet/blast resistant windsheilds that don't compromise visibility (or the ability to roll down your window at the drive through). Or, more generous windows on aircraft and spacecraft?

  • Jeremy Spiel

    my friend's son dropped his note 2 (which uses gorilla) face first on the floor, and guess what? it cracked. he needed to have the screen replaced. so i guess your obvious bullet/blast resistant thing doesn't include floors. so i think you should realize that the glass they use for aircraft and spacecraft is a lot thicker than what they use on phones. people might start thinking, based on your example, that their gorilla glass screen is unbreakable (which isn't, in fact it performed quite poorly against a child). 

    so people, take care of your phone. whether it's dragontrail or gorilla, it will break. dont' believe the bullet/blast/aircraft/spacecraft crap that some people say. 

  • Ron Zhu

    as an engineer, i can definitely say that shatter-proof does not mean impact proof. You can shoot ammo from a sniper rifle, and the armor might stop it, but the damage will probably still be there. 

    Back to phones, i personally prefer Dragontrail over Gorilla. If what they say is true, Dragontrail glass sacrifices a bit of scratch resistancy to improve its shatter-resistance. I've seen many Galaxy S3's and Note 2's with cracked screens but no scratches. If that's the case, i'd rather just get a Dragontail glass with a good screen protector and swap that every year or two. 

  • André On

    I have a Galaxy S3 and I can tell you that Gorilla Glass has definitely no scratch resistence. Any tiny piece of mineral in your pocket can scratch Gorilla Glass.