Apple looking to ramp production of new 'critical' sapphire component in U.S. by Feb.

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2014
Documents made public on Wednesday reveal Apple and manufacturing partner GT Advanced Technologies are pushing to open an advanced sapphire production facility in Arizona by the end of February, which will handle a new "critical subcomponent" to be incorporated in a future Apple product.



The new information was discovered in a foreign trade zone application packet sent by Apple and the City of Mesa, Arizona to U.S. Foreign Trade Zone Board executive secretary Andrew McGilvray. While not a detailed overview of Apple's plans, the documents offer insight into its sapphire component initiative with partner GT Advanced.

First uncovered by analyst Matt Margolis (via 9to5Mac), the application offers a brief overview of a previously-announced Apple-GT Advanced joint venture dubbed "Project Cascade." From the information provided, the facility looks to be a manufacturing plant that will handle production of sapphire subcomponents bound for Apple products.

As noted in the original document above, the sapphire part will supposedly be "new." Speculation points to either a replacement part for current hardware, like an iPhone screen, or something never before seen in an Apple device. The latter implementation would be in line with recent rumors claiming Foxconn successfully completed a round of iPhone prototypes featuring sapphire-covered displays.

In an interview last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook was pressed on possible sapphire applications including a sapphire screen, but expectedly dodged the subject. Instead, the executive joked that Apple's next use of sapphire would be an "iRing," alluding to offbeat speculation from analyst Brian White.

Apple first experimented with manufactured sapphire in the iPhone 5's camera lens cover, a small part of the handset's build. With the latest iPhone 5s, the hardened material is being deployed in a more critical and functional role as a cover to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.



According to the application's description, 100 percent of all sapphire goods produced at the Mesa, Ariz., factory are tagged for export to foreign device assemblers.

The application seeks interim approval for an "aggressive" ramp to production within the Mesa foreign trade zone and notes Apple has already met with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to discuss the short turnaround. By applying for a subzone designation, Apple is prepping to go "live" in February.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    Something's coming.
  • Reply 2 of 29
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member

    Finally, Apple is going to release the new sapphire iPad dock!

  • Reply 3 of 29
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,349member
    Yeah, a better replacement to Gorilla glass. Corning aren't exactly "on the ball when it comes to glass.
    They had Gorilla glass for many years before Jobs told them a use for it. Since then, they haven't really kept up, they just sold the same old stuff to other manufacturers. Corning Willow glass is too little too late and primarily for companies trying to cut a niche market with curved screens.

    This time, Apple know this will be the next big thing so want to secure enough manufacturing time for their stock with the opportunity of squeezing money from "competing" companies who also want to use sapphire glass.
  • Reply 4 of 29
    If it's not only for screens, this is obviously for an iWatch.
  • Reply 5 of 29
    )
  • Reply 6 of 29
    Agreed, Cummje. Doesn't it seem obvious that this is for the iWatch? A watch has to resist much tear and wear, has a smaller (therefore not as expensive to produce in saphire) screen, and being a new product it makes sense that apple is trying to create the best possible possible product that will erase smartwatch competition...that may explain why apple is taking so long in releasing the iWatch! Very exciting :)
  • Reply 7 of 29
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    So Apple will implement some highly complex manufacturing technique that no one else is using in the consumer electronics space (or not in the volume that Apple is) and Wall Street will punish the stock because it doesn't result in a product that is dirt cheap.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    I hope this is for the "iPhone 6". I skipped the 5 series, but will be lined up to be among the first to get my hands on the new phone. I think it's going to wow!
  • Reply 9 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,297member

    Funny. The AI author links to the 9to5 story but AI's software blocks it. :rolleyes:
  • Reply 10 of 29
    I'm really excited I can't wait for them to show the next iPhone :D

    I hope they're going to put in the rumored solar charger, simply because I believe that would make the whole e-wallet thing a lot more reliable service.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    So Apple will implement some highly complex manufacturing technique that no one else is using in the consumer electronics space (or not in the volume that Apple is) and Wall Street will punish the stock because it doesn't result in a product that is dirt cheap.

    Good summary ;)

  • Reply 12 of 29
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,221member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    So Apple will implement some highly complex manufacturing technique that no one else is using in the consumer electronics space (or not in the volume that Apple is) and Wall Street will punish the stock because it doesn't result in a product that is dirt cheap.

     

    imo Apple is no longer the stock to look at in the phone/tablet spaces.  Until they introduce something new they are pretty much going no where.  I am keeping some stocks for dividends but this no longer the place for growth.

     

    Apple needs to continu to come up with new and cutting edge hardware, and this is to maintain its sales at the high end.  I am looking forward to the iphone 6 to replace my 4s if they come up with a 4.5" or more screen size.

  • Reply 13 of 29
    Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post

    Something's coming.



    Better sell.

  • Reply 14 of 29
    Sapphire glass is very hard throughout its structure, not just a surface treatment like Gorilla glass. However Gorilla glass may be more flexible.
  • Reply 15 of 29

    Eyeglasses and contact lenses can be made of sapphire... jus' sayin'.

  • Reply 16 of 29
    Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

    Eyeglasses and contact lenses can be made of sapphire... jus' sayin'.

     

    Wait… glass contact lenses? Why is screaming terror the only thing that comes to mind?

  • Reply 17 of 29
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post



    Something's coming.

     

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     



    Better sell.


    Just bought into AAPL and GTAT. If there's no blow-away Superbowl ad, I'll sell on Monday. If there is....

  • Reply 18 of 29
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by marokero View Post



    Sapphire glass is very hard throughout its structure, not just a surface treatment like Gorilla glass. However Gorilla glass may be more flexible.

    One tech website showed the new hydrogen beam tech of Twin Creeks (later bought by GT Advanced, later bought by Apple...) producing Sapphire sheets 20 micrometers thick that, when laminated to a metal backing, is shown in a photo rolled up...

     

    Here's a different announcement:

    http://modmyi.com/content/12788-gt-advanced-use-particle-accelerator-cut-sapphire-glass-production-costs.html

  • Reply 19 of 29
    Sapphire E-credit card, cut and dyed with info and a fingerprint sensor for your signature.
  • Reply 20 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jfc1138 View Post

     

    One tech website showed the new hydrogen beam tech of Twin Creeks (later bought by GT Advanced, later bought by Apple...) producing Sapphire sheets 20 micrometers thick that, when laminated to a metal backing, is shown in a photo rolled up...

     

    Here's a different announcement:

    http://modmyi.com/content/12788-gt-advanced-use-particle-accelerator-cut-sapphire-glass-production-costs.html


    But they used crystalline silicon, not sapphire which is Al2-O3. Strange though, I found an earlier article which used the same exact picture, and they do not mention sapphire:

    http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/122231-solar-panels-made-with-ion-cannon-are-cheap-enough-to-challenge-fossil-fuels

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