Thoughts on Research & Development

Two Main Focuses: Glass Products and Chemical Products

Central Glass mainly produces glass products and chemical products such as fluorine compounds. We deal in many products because we supply fundamental materials to the many kinds of customers such as housing and construction industries, automobiles, electrical equipment, mobile devices, medicine, food products, and so on. It is no exaggeration to say that there is no category of industry in which we are not involved.

In glass products, our R&D efforts aim to achieve high functionality by adding value through Central Glass technologies in energy conservation, security, sound insulation, thermal insulation, etc.

On the other hand, for chemical products, basic research is important to find technologies that match needs. Unlike glass products, whose objectives are clear and whose main focus is product development, we start with a plan on how to achieve our objectives, and conduct several research at the same time. It is not uncommon for the methods we have envisioned to be successful, and it will take more than 10 years to become a product.

Creating Added Value by Fusing Two Technologies

To create new value, we have experimented with ways to blend two domains, glass and chemicals. However, it has not always proven easy to combine two very different approaches to develop a product. One of our success stories has been our attempt to create new products that fuse not simply final products, but technical capabilities that evolved in different domains is the Pattern Keeper™ (PK Series).

Central Glass has developed an innovative semiconductor wafer water-repellent drying liquid that is used in the manufacture of semiconductor devices. We accomplish this by combining surface treatment technology that the glass departments have cultivated over many years with the semiconductor mass production technology under clean environment that eliminates nano-scale debris in the chemical departments.

This product was realized through a proposal by a sales employee who was consulted by a customer that "There is a process for washing waste and drying it in a semiconductor production line, but because of the capillary phenomenon, semiconductors are in trouble when dried." The proposal was "Is it possible to make an agent that prevents the patterns from sticking?" We wondered if we might be able to come up with an agent that dries the devices but not allow patterns to stick. And that is how the PK Series came about.

Actually, we get a lot of requests and inquiries from people who would like us to make this or that product, or for us to help them with a particular problem they have. Particularly since it has become widely known that the original functions of a compound can be improved many times over through the introduction of the fluorine atom, we get many requests from people in many industries around the world asking, “Can you make this for us?”

We feel that Central Glass's role is to match the technologies we've cultivated over the years with the various marketplace needs that the folks in our sales and other departments have heard about so that we can provide and implement new solutions.

Voluminous Research Data and Our People Create Products That Keep the User In Mind

Thanks to the development of analytical equipment in recent years, we are now able to make use of past research that we used to be unable to commercialize. This enormous amount of accumulated research data—including our failures—is one of our greatest assets at Central Glass.

Information sharing is the most important thing in order to connect the technology to products and give it back to people who need it as a solution. One of the most important events on Central Glass's calendar is the Company's Research Presentations, an annual event attended by everyone, including the CEO and Directors, Officers and Auditors. Additionally, the various headquarters departments exchange information with plants and research centers across Japan. We also hold meetings at which our researchers provide updates on the progress of their work. Sales representatives and researchers also stay in close communication with each other.
In particular, many of the people in the sales departments of our fine chemicals business unit originate from our research center. You could say that one of the defining characteristics of Central Glass is how conversant our people are in technology. Our greatest asset at Central Glass is our human resources, people who truly know how to assess the needs of the market and make the best use of the valuable data we have.

The Accumulation of Small Victories Drives the Creation of Future Technologies

Central Glass is currently moving forward with product development on a number of fronts. We are developing chemical products that combine organic synthesis with technology to control asymmetric synthesis through the use of microorganisms. We are developing hybrid resins that are used as sealing materials for powered semiconductors and LEDs. We are also working on next-generation energy products like electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries.

Sometimes it's hard to find the right match between a technology and a particular product, and sometimes it takes more time to commercialize a given technology. But in the end what it really takes is the accumulation of small victories: The first time we could only make 1 gram, and now we can make 5 grams. This is how we solve problems: By building on small successes, we find a way to create the technologies of the future. We may be a small company, but we're building up our storehouse of data day by day. We are confident that we can find new solutions, new approaches. The possibilities are limitless.