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Just How Strong are Sapphire Windows?

August 01, 2017

IRD Glass manufactures a variety of sapphire components, including sapphire windows, for industry leading companies like Honeywell. Here’s what you need to know about this amazing material and the components that can be made from it.

What are Sapphire Windows?

Sapphire is a synthetically grown super hard material that is extremely durable and resistant to scratches. It second only to diamond in terms of its strength. Sapphire windows can withstand more than what quartz and conventional glass can, and at a fraction of the thickness. Sapphire crystals are “grown” in extremely hot ovens. The large, cylindrical boules are cut into sapphire rods, which are then sliced into thin discs, ground, and polished.

See how sapphire is “grown”

Uses of Sapphire Windows

Sapphire windows are used when sapphire’s unique properties – high strength, high scratch resistance, wide optical transmission band, extremely high melt temperature, high thermal conductivity, high electrical resistance and chemical inertness – are required.

  • Commercial Uses

There are many commercial uses for sapphire. Among the most commonly known are the sapphire display windows that are used to protect the phones’ optics. Newer iPhones use sapphire windows because their fracture toughness is roughly four times greater than Gorilla Glass, which is just strengthened conventional glass. Prior to the smartphone revolution, most consumers’ consumers’ experience of sapphire came from the displays used in most high-end watches.

Watch as a cinderblock is dragged over iPhone sapphire window display – leaving no scratches!

  • Military Uses

No industry requires reliable, durable materials more than the military, so it’s no wonder that sapphire windows are in high demand. Sapphire maintains its characteristics when under high pressure, high heat, acidity, high impact and pretty much everything else you can imagine. This makes sapphire ideal for protecting vital optics, lasers, etc. Military as well as commercial air, ground and water-borne vehicles use sapphire to protect vision systems, sensors, cameras, and lasers. Submarines also use sapphire for its resistance to high pressure and its resistance to saltwater abrasion.

  • Medical Uses

Sapphire windows are widely used in medicine. One of the most common medical applications is within the endoscopy market. Endo, comes from the Greek ‘internal’, and scopy comes from the Greek ‘viewing’ or ‘observation’. Endoscopic instruments contain small cameras and are introduced into the body of the patient to allow doctors to perform operations, make diagnoses, and observe. Sapphire windows are used to protect endoscopic instruments because they are scratch resistant, easy to clean and disinfect, and chemically inert. What’s more, they can be used for years and years without having to be replaced.

IRD Glass is your Source for Sapphire Windows

IRD Glass is considered a leader in custom sapphire optics customization and manufacture. We have state-of-the-art precision sapphire machining equipment that can produce custom sapphire windows up to 8″ in diameter. Our capabilities include traditional single-side processing as well as double-side lapping and polishing for an efficient yield, exemplary parallelism, and typical flatness of 1/4 wave up to 1/10 wave flatness. Visit our homepage for more information!