Sapphire production for Apple reportedly underway with 100-furnace trial at Arizona facility

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 2014
GT Advanced Technologies, the sapphire manufacturer with which Apple has a multi-million-dollar deal, reportedly began shipping small quantities of sapphire to one of Apple's manufacturing partners in China last month, gearing up for mass production later this year.



Analyst Stephen Chin of UBS cited his supply chain checks in revealing that GT's Arizona facility apparently started producing sapphire last month, he said in a new note to investors this week, a copy of which was provided to AppleInsider. GT's initial production level was said to be small, utilizing just 100 furnaces that are believed to be turned on and running.

The Arizona facility is expected to ramp up with installation of some 1,500 additional furnaces in the first half of 2014.

Chin estimates that GT shipped only about $1 million worth of sapphire to a China supplier last month. He believes Apple's partner in China will be receiving about $50 million in sapphire materials every month once the Arizona facility is fully operational.

The unnamed partner is believed to be utilizing the limited shipment of materials for scratch-resistant covers found on the iPhone 5s Touch ID home button and rear camera lens cover. Because shipments have been so limited, GT Advanced is said to currently represent a small portion of sapphire suppliers.




Just last week, GT confirmed that it received a third prepayment for Apple for sapphire supply, and Chin estimates that the company will receive its fourth and last prepayment for materials in May.

His checks indicate that sapphire from GT has been sold at a price 25 percent lower than the other sapphire suppliers Apple has largely been relying on. Chin has high hopes for GT Advanced's partnership with Apple, and recommends that investors buy GTAT stock, with a 12-month price target of $22.

AppleInsider was first to report in March that GT Advanced is expanding operations at its Mesa, Ariz., facility, potentially to accommodate higher yields for an as-yet-unknown component. Documents supplied to the U.S. International Trade Administration in January suggested Apple was moving to aggressively ramp production of a "critical" sapphire component by the end of February, and that the material would be shipped outside the U.S. for final assembly.

Sapphire, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide, can also be used to create an advanced virtually unscratchable alternative to silicon dioxide conventional glass. It's a potential alternative to Corning's potassium-enhanced Gorilla Glass, which Apple currently uses in its iPhone screens. Sapphire can be made thinner, and therefore lighter, but has historically also been more expensive.

Apple first began experimenting with manufactured sapphire with the iPhone 5, when it used the material as a cover for the rear-facing camera. With the latest iPhone 5s, Apple's use of sapphire has been extended to a more critical and functional role as cover glass for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

In order to secure sapphire supply, Apple inked a $578 million deal with GT Advanced last November. The investment was a prepayment funding the accelerated development of a "next-generation, large capacity" advanced sapphire furnace in Arizona.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    Seems pointless using this plant to supply sapphire glass parts for 5s when obviously Apple has enough to meet demand from elsewhere already. GT are obviously gearing up to supply sapphire glass screens or parts for iwatch/iphone6 etc. Watch this space!!
  • Reply 2 of 34

    Is Corning reading this?

  • Reply 3 of 34
    Quote:


    Sapphire, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide, can also be used to create an advanced virtually unscratchable alternative to silicon dioxide conventional glass. 


     

    It is also well established as a material for building whale-sized aquariums. Known in some circles as "transparent aluminum", the synthetic sapphire debuted to the mass market in StarTrek4: The Voyage Home, and was schematized on a Macintosh.  Of course.  :)

  • Reply 4 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

     

     

    It is also well established as a material for building whale-sized aquariums. Known in some circles as "transparent aluminum", the synthetic sapphire debuted to the mass market in StarTrek4: The Voyage Home, and was schematized on a Macintosh.  Of course.  :)


    So... Apple mastered transparent Aluminium too!  

  • Reply 5 of 34
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    aaplfanboy wrote: »
    Seems pointless using this plant to supply sapphire glass parts for 5s when obviously Apple has enough to meet demand from elsewhere already.

    Can you elaborate?
  • Reply 6 of 34
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    It must be for an iPod touch, not an iPhone. Clearly.

    /sarcasm
  • Reply 7 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    It is also well established as a material for building whale-sized aquariums. Known in some circles as "transparent aluminum", the synthetic sapphire debuted to the mass market in StarTrek4: The Voyage Home, and was schematized on a Macintosh.  Of course.  :)
    http://makezine.com/2012/01/17/transparent-aluminum/

    The article is from a couple years ago tho so there's been a lot of activity in the space since.
  • Reply 8 of 34
    Burn, baby, burn! I'm sure Corning has a some new reasons why Apple is throwing away good money using synthetic sapphire when Corning is ready with Gorilla Glass 3, with GG 4 and GG5 on the horizon. I don't know if Apple will be using sapphire for their displays but there's certainly a world need for man-made sapphire for many other uses. Apple could revolutionize the medical profession with an abundant supply of super-sharp scalpels.
  • Reply 9 of 34
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member

    Seriously, this is gonna be sweet.

     

    Sapphire was always the answer.

  • Reply 10 of 34
    irelandireland Posts: 17,526member
    chandra69 wrote: »
    Is Corning reading this?

    No. Fingers in ears. La la la la la la...
  • Reply 11 of 34
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,575member

    Update on the Samsung-Apple trial...

     

    OMG these jurors seem much less informed than the average person. Here are 4 questions they passed to Judge Koh:

     

     



    1. "What did Steve Jobs say at the moment he directed, or decided to prosecute, a case against Samsung? Was Google mentioned, and/or include in that directive, or subsequent directives, to be included in any way in the case?"


    2. "How were the five Apple patents chosen? Were they identified to Apple execs prior tot he decision to pursue patent infringement, or after?"


    3. "How were the two patents chosen by Samsung to be purchased? Who specifically, and initially, recommended that purchase, and what was his/her title?"


    4. "What did the CEO of Samsung say or write, at the moment he first heard about Apple Corp. [sic]" believing Samsung was infringing their intellectual property? What subsequent direction did he give to his team as to how to respond?"

       


    http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/04/first-jury-questions-in-apple-v-samsung.html

  • Reply 12 of 34
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,972member
    Update on the Samsung-Apple trial...

    OMG these jurors seem much less informed than the average person. Here are 4 questions they passed to Judge Koh:

     


    1. "What did Steve Jobs say at the moment he directed, or decided to prosecute, a case against Samsung? Was Google mentioned, and/or include in that directive, or subsequent directives, to be included in any way in the case?"

    2. "How were the five Apple patents chosen? Were they identified to Apple execs prior tot he decision to pursue patent infringement, or after?"

    3. "How were the two patents chosen by Samsung to be purchased? Who specifically, and initially, recommended that purchase, and what was his/her title?"

    4. "What did the CEO of Samsung say or write, at the moment he first heard about Apple Corp. [sic]" believing Samsung was infringing their intellectual property? What subsequent direction did he give to his team as to how to respond?"
       

    http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/04/first-jury-questions-in-apple-v-samsung.html

    That sounds about right. A good number people don't know what a patent is or does.
  • Reply 13 of 34
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Update on the Samsung-Apple trial...

    OMG these jurors seem much less informed than the average person. Here are 4 questions they passed to Judge Koh:

    1. "What did Steve Jobs say at the moment he directed, or decided to prosecute, a case against Samsung? Was Google mentioned, and/or include in that directive, or subsequent directives, to be included in any way in the case?"
    2. "How were the five Apple patents chosen? Were they identified to Apple execs prior tot he decision to pursue patent infringement, or after?"
    3. "How were the two patents chosen by Samsung to be purchased? Who specifically, and initially, recommended that purchase, and what was his/her title?"
    4. "What did the CEO of Samsung say or write, at the moment he first heard about Apple Corp. [sic]" believing Samsung was infringing their intellectual property? What subsequent direction did he give to his team as to how to respond?"
       

    http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/04/first-jury-questions-in-apple-v-samsung.html

    What's wrong with the questions? They sound reasonable to me.
  • Reply 14 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    Update on the Samsung-Apple trial...

    OMG these jurors seem much less informed than the average person. Here are 4 questions they passed to Judge Koh:

     


    1. "What did Steve Jobs say at the moment he directed, or decided to prosecute, a case against Samsung? Was Google mentioned, and/or include in that directive, or subsequent directives, to be included in any way in the case?"

    2. "How were the five Apple patents chosen? Were they identified to Apple execs prior tot he decision to pursue patent infringement, or after?"

    3. "How were the two patents chosen by Samsung to be purchased? Who specifically, and initially, recommended that purchase, and what was his/her title?"

    4. "What did the CEO of Samsung say or write, at the moment he first heard about Apple Corp. [sic]" believing Samsung was infringing their intellectual property? What subsequent direction did he give to his team as to how to respond?"
       

    http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/04/first-jury-questions-in-apple-v-samsung.html

    In effect Judge's Koh's answer is "Deal with it. There's nothing more to give you than what has already been testified to"
  • Reply 15 of 34
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    In effect Judge's Koh's answer is "Deal with it. There's nothing more to give you than what has already been testified to"

    Shouldve just said- "Just give them 2.2 billion and let me go watch survivor tonight"

  • Reply 16 of 34
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,575member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    What's wrong with the questions? They sound reasonable to me.

     

    Their questions actually have nothing to do with the evidence they were presented. I think they are focusing on what they understand, which is a danger in giving a highly technical case to a jury made of "norms."

  • Reply 17 of 34
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,575member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

     

    Shouldve just said- "Just give them 2.2 billion and let me go watch survivor tonight"


     

    That's just about right. People are woefully uninformed about patents and matters of law.

  • Reply 18 of 34
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Their questions actually have nothing to do with the evidence they were presented. I think they are focusing on what they understand, which is a danger in giving a highly technical case to a jury made of "norms."

    I see those questions as them wanting information that wasn't well presented at the trial but t don't think that means they are not discussing the patents.


    edit: typos
  • Reply 19 of 34
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    Still not convinced (by rumors) that this is going to be used for large screens. (iPhone, and up?). Simply not enough benefit over existing solutions.
    It's a slam-dunk for wearables though.
  • Reply 20 of 34
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,575member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    I see those questions as them having plenty of information that wasn't well presented at the trill but t don't think that means they are not discussing the patents.

     

    The people at the courtroom are indicating they believe deliberations will be lengthy.

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