Today, companies that fail to innovate simply won’t survive. The average life span of a Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 company is less than 20 years. But a long history can be a business advantage.
EVP and Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Evenson explains Corning has built a “repeatable innovation and growth engine.” The secret is clearly-defined core strengths, executed by people who care deeply about their craft and clients.
“One of the advantages we have is more than 100 years of excellent lab reports. Drawing on this information helps us make discoveries faster,” Evenson explains. The venerable company has drawn on experience and decades of data to remain a leading innovator in materials science for more than one and a half centuries.
Strength in Synergy
Corning’s innovations—damage-resistant cover glass for mobile phones, specialty optical fiber for communications networks, and clean-air technologies for vehicles, to name a few—are tied together with a common thread. They all solve tough challenges, build on innovation in materials and process, and create a lasting impact for customers.
From a technical standpoint, Corning’s work focuses on three areas—optical physics, glass sciences, and ceramics science—and four proprietary manufacturing and engineering platforms. In these areas, the company produces materials that make a difference in everyday life.
For example, Corning’s proprietary extrusion process creates gas particulate filters that trap harmful particles, reducing damaging vehicle emissions and improving air quality. The company’s vapor deposition process creates some of the purest glass in the world by depositing layers of tiny glass particles on a growing surface, rather than cooling a molten liquid. Completely free of contaminants that could interrupt the transmission of light, this glass is ideal for optical fibers used in telecommunication and computer networking.
The company’s innovative fusion process creates glass sheets with remarkably pristine surface quality, in sizes ranging up to the equivalent of two king-size mattresses, and as thin as a business card. The material is so pure, it doesn’t need costly post-production steps, making it less expensive and feasible for use in mobile consumer electronics, automobiles, and other areas. Corning’s fourth platform, precision forming, ensures the team can execute extreme precision at scale across several product sets and markets.
The materials science leader’s achievements in glass earned it the No. 7 spot on Fast Company‘s 2019 Most Innovative Companies list in the Consumer Electronics category. More than 6 billion devices use Corning Gorilla Glass, a cover glass for touchscreen smartphones. The company continually improves the product, most recently with the introduction of Gorilla Glass 6, which Evenson describes as up to two times tougher than previous models. In testing, Gorilla Glass 6 survived 15 consecutive 1-meter drops onto rough surfaces. Competitors’ glass didn’t survive the first drop.
Corning glass is also used in smartwatches and foldable devices. Automobile designers use Gorilla Glass to build vehicle interiors that incorporate smartphone-like experiences, including touch screens. Corning’s gas particulate filters also make cars cleaner.
In the pharmaceutical sector, Corning is a trusted supplier of tools and products. Its newest technology, Valor, is a pharmaceutical glass packaging solution that enhances drug storage and delivery. In this way, Corning’s work touches not only companies, but consumers, too.
This year, Corning will open its new Optical Communications headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, while also undergoing significant manufacturing capacity investments to support growing demand for its optical fiber products. Evenson explains that Corning solutions are critical to 5G, the latest generation of mobile communication. Its products and processes help communications networks deploy cheaper, more cost effective, and faster networks.Progress like this doesn’t just happen. It is the result of amassing research by brilliant thinkers. Today, leading companies call on Corning to help solve their toughest challenges. With its versatile and synergistic suite of technologies and processes, Corning will keep innovating for the innovative, as it has done for the last 168 years.