Corning announced its flexible Willow Glass last summer with the possibility of full production by the end of the year, but we shouldn't expect to see it in consumer electronics any time soon. That's the message from Corning Glass Technologies president James Clappin, who told Bloomberg that manufacturers are expected to take at least three more years to design products with flexible Willow Glass displays.

"The ability of people to take it and use it to make a product is limited," said Clappin, who was marking the opening of an $800 million LCD glass plant in China. Corning is making efforts to teach some "very big name" customers how to implement the glass in their products, but it's clear that the material poses new design challenges. Clappin said some "simple" Willow Glass products, such as a flexible solar panel barrier, may ship later this year.

"The ability of people to take it and use it to make a product is limited."

Corning's most prominent customer is Apple, which uses Gorilla Glass in its iPhone and iPad. While there is much speculation over Apple's plans to make a curved-glass smartwatch, it looks like the product could be some way away if Cupertino wishes to rely on one of its key suppliers. Clappin declined to comment when asked by Bloomberg about the Apple project.