Imagine, for example, how a printing press can rapidly print the same text over and over on a single roll of paper。 In a similar fashion, manufacturers can apply images, coatings, electronic circuitry, and more to the flexible material in a fast, cost-effective roll-to-roll process。
The innovations are opening new possibilities in such wide-ranging areas as architectural design and energy storage.
One example: Corning® Willow® Glass, which can be as thin as a sheet of paper -- 100 microns, to be exact. Bendable, wearable electronic displays are both possible and practical with Willow Glass. And it’s made a splash as a laminate on flat construction materials like wood or metal, offering a gleaming, chemically resistant surface.
Ribbon Ceramic made from zirconia comes in thicknesses as low as 20 microns. It has attracted attention over recent years for its potential use in microbatteries for smartcards, sensors, and Internet-connect wearables.
More recently, Corning began exploring an alumina version of Ribbon Ceramic with high thermal conductivity。 Alumina Ribbon Ceramic is ideal for use in LED lighting, power electronics, and radio frequency applications。
Flexible ceramics also offer potential for more economical production of solid-state batteries. Thin, long-lasting ceramic electrolytes, produced via roll-to-roll manufacturing, offer an alternative to the liquid electrolytes widely used in today’s shorter-lived rechargeable lithium ion batteries.
While glass and ceramics draw their compositions from different elements, Corning researchers are finding more and more parallels between the way the materials behave in ultra-thin, flexible form factors。 The materials are helping give rise to other industry innovations, too, like new methods of coating rolled surfaces -- just one more example of growing commercial potential for roll-to-roll processing。