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Corning can now print images directly onto its Gorilla Glass

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Look at this photograph, it's printed on a piece of glass

A 14-inch sample of Corning's Vibrant Gorilla Glass
A 14-inch sample of Corning's Vibrant Gorilla Glass

Corning's special toughened glass, known as Gorilla Glass, is ubiquitous. You can find it on almost any device with a touchscreen: smartphones, tablets, laptops, even wearables. Visually, it's indistinguishable from lesser, non-toughened glass, as it has the same transparent properties as pedestrian glass, just in a more durable package. Corning is changing that today with the announcement of Vibrant Gorilla Glass, which will let device manufacturers add photo-quality images to the glass cover.

Corning says it uses proprietary inkjet process to print onto Gorilla Glass, and it is capable of displaying logos, gradients, multiple colors, and photo-quality images at nearly the same resolution of paper. The company also says its process requires shorter processing times and produces less waste than other printing methods. It even claims that the process is scalable enough to support personalized devices, so you could have a completely different looking phone than someone with the exact same model. The process is also considered cost-neutral compared to the previous methods of screen printing single-color logos onto the glass.

Vibrant Gorilla Glass is for places other than a touchscreen

Of course, the obvious question here is: If Gorilla Glass is used on a touchscreen, doesn't it have to be transparent and wouldn't printing an image on it negate the whole purpose of using glass? Yes, that's correct, but there are plenty of devices that have glass in places that don't need for it to be see through, such as the back of a phone or top of a laptop. (Look at Samsung's Galaxy S7 phones or Xiaomi's Mi 5, for example.) A manufacturer could use Vibrant Gorilla Glass to make a device with multiple colors or unique designs on parts that don't need to be transparent.

Corning says that is already sampling and shipping Vibrant Gorilla Glass to its customers, which means that we may see devices with it on shelves in the very near future.