Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW) today announced that its board of directors recently approved a capital expenditure of approximately $180 million to expand the company’s Harrodsburg, Ky., manufacturing facility. The expansion will provide additional capacity for Corning’s surging Gorilla® glass business and entry into the growing thin-film photovoltaic glass market.
“Growing demand for Gorilla glass is quickly consuming our available capacity,” James P. Clappin, president, Corning’s Precision Glass businesses, said. “We are on track to reach sales in excess of $250 million this year and sales could approach the $1 billion mark in 2011. We are making Gorilla glass manufacturing and technology investments today to meet the growing market need of the future,” he said.
Gorilla glass is currently used or designed into more than 200 mobile devices and is planned for about 100 others. Gorilla glass is an ideal cover glass for smart phones, which today represent almost 60 percent of the global mobile phone market. “Gorilla glass is also an appealing solution for the emerging slate computing environment. It is highly damage-resistant and scratch-resistant. The optical quality and elegance of Gorilla glass also makes it a superb cover glass for the thin, edge-to-edge design of LCD televisions,” Clappin said.
Glass for thin-film photovoltaics
Corning also will build capacity in its Harrodsburg facility to begin producing specialty glass for thin-film photovoltaics. The company will use its proprietary fusion manufacturing process to produce the thin-film photovoltaic glass. Corning’s new specialty thin glass can greatly improve the solar module’s energy conversion efficiency and reduce weight while maintaining product strength and long-term reliability.
“Thin-film photovoltaic technology is a rapidly advancing solution within the fast-growing solar energy industry and plays to Corning’s strengths in flat glass, materials science, and light management,” said Dr. Gary Calabrese, vice-president, science and technology and director, Photovoltaic Glass Technologies. “We have already generated significant customer interest in our innovative solutions,” he said.
Corning’s Harrodsburg facility is currently undergoing its third major product transformation since opening in 1952. The facility originally manufactured various ophthalmic products, including photochromic glass. In the mid-1980s, the plant became the focus of its nascent LCD glass business, continuing to produce small-generation substrates until recently shifting into Gorilla and photovoltaic glass production. The facility has also excelled in its role as Corning’s glass-melting technology center, where engineers work closely with scientists at the company’s Sullivan Park Research and Technology Center to develop advanced fusion-formed glass for display, photovoltaic and other emerging applications.
The Harrodsburg investments are included in Corning’s previously announced capital expenditure expectations for 2010 and 2011.
“Corning is a longstanding, vibrant corporate citizen of Kentucky and we are extremely pleased to partner with them on this more than $186 million investment,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. “As a result of this significant expansion, 80 new jobs will be created, production capacity will be increased and the Harrodsburg plant will gain valuable R&D capabilities. This is a win-win development for everyone.”
Assistance for this expansion project has been offered by the state of Kentucky and Gov. Beshear’s office through the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority in up to $4.5 million in Kentucky Business Investment incentives, and up to $1 million in tax rebates related to construction costs.