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Poppy Harlow, CNN

Harrodsburg, KY (CNN) -- Ever heard of Gorilla glass? It's common on the iPhone.

The iPhone, Apple's iconic smartphone, assembled in giant Foxconn factories in China.

Yet would you believe the glass for it was developed right here in America? Not in Silicon Valley, but in rural Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

"This glass is pretty strong it can take keys. It's damage resistant. It can take keys it can take some drops."

In 2007, Apple CEO Steve Jobs asked Corning to make a thin but strong glass for the first iPhone, and gave them just 6 months to produce it.

"One of the fastest developments that we've ever pulled off here and a very successful one."

We know gorilla glass was used in the first iPhone, but Apple and Corning's lips are sealed when it comes to later versions. But other mobile phone companies came calling, looking to add gorilla glass to their phone.

"We now work with over 30 different manufacturers. We're in over 600 different designs. There are now over 600 million devices in the field. "

And that's keeping this factory -- and its workers -- pretty busy. But without gorilla glass, this plant may not have made it through the recession. Before Steve Jobs made that initial order, the Harrodsburg plant made LCD glass but demand was slowing.

"Late 2008 and into 2009, the world experienced a real crisis. So we were extremely fortunate at that time to have a new business, Gorilla, that was growing and could really help this plant stay viable."

"So all the gorilla glass made here - every sheet of it - is packaged up and shipped over to Asia because that's where the customers are."

40 percent of Corning's workings are here in the U.S., 400 at the Kentucky plant. But 60 percent are overseas - mainly in Asia. Yet, Corning keeps the product development close to home, to protect the glass-making secrets at the heart of its business.

"It's important for us being a global company that we protect our innovation. we spend a lot of money to develop our technologies and we have to make sure they're secure."

Corning's not planning to just ride the gorilla glass wave. They see a world made of glass and their latest invention is a part of it.

"As you can see I can bend the glass around a certain radius and we plan on providing these in spooled format for our customers."

This is the future? This is the future.

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