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A Closer Look at Apple's Mac Pro Production Process

During yesterday's media event, Apple played a video highlighting the production process for the upcoming Mac Pro, a machine that will see Apple bring Mac production back to the United States and is already seeing over 2,000 people in 20 states working on the project.

The video showed a number of steps in the production process, taking an initial chunk of aluminum and sculpting it into the shape of the Mac Pro enclosure before subjecting it polishing, anodizing, and other steps. Brief segments also provided glimpses of the massive heat sink in production and chips being placed on boards to be installed in the machine.


Product designer Greg Koenig has offered an expert overview of what exactly is shown in the video, explaining for the layperson the tools and processes Apple is using. Koenig notes that the "big story" is Apple's use of hydraulic deep draw stamping for the Mac Pro's enclosure, a process that stretches the initial chunk of aluminum into the general shape of the enclosure.
Deep drawing is a process that very efficiently produces a "net shape" part. Apple could have just chucked a giant hunk of aluminum in a lathe and created the same part, but that amount of metal removal is extremely inefficient. Deep drawing efficiently creates a hunk of metal that is very close to the final shape of a Mac Pro in just a couple of operations. After that, the Mac Pro enclosure is lathe turned to clean up the surface and achieve desired tolerance, polished, placed back in a machining center to produce the I/O, power button and chamfer features and finally anodized.
Koenig goes on to share a number of stills from the video with captions explaining what is going on in each step, including lathing, polishing, grinding, protective film application, I/O cutout milling, and anodizing.

Other stills capture production on some of the other parts of the new Mac Pro, including bead blasting of the main triangular heat sink, pick-and-place assembly of circuit boards, and parts delivery for final hand assembly of the machines themselves.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Flextronics is in the process of hiring 1,700 workers at its facilities in Austin, Texas to work on a "next generation desktop computer". That computer is presumed to be the Mac Pro, given that Apple had previously revealed the machine would be assembled in Texas, Apple and Flextronics had previously been reported to be working together on the project, and Flextronics' Austin facilities are only a mile from Apple's large and growing operations campus in the area.

Related roundup: Mac Pro

Top Rated Comments

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14 months ago
Shows the difference between Apple design and the common PC that is a steel case battered into shape with a rock ;):D
Rating: 16 Votes
14 months ago

To be honest, $2000 isn't all that bad for a product of Apple's standards/quality built in the US...
Was a cool video in itself as well. First of its kind.



you're off by 1G there buddy :D
Rating: 16 Votes
14 months ago
To be honest, $3000 isn't all that bad for a product of Apple's standards/quality built in the US...
Was a cool video in itself as well. First of its kind. And that laser engraving at the end.... Loved it. :apple:
Rating: 11 Votes
14 months ago
I'm getting one just so I can paint it "Minion Yellow".
Rating: 10 Votes
14 months ago
Very cool stuff!!!

Crazy this much work goes into the casing/design. Shows they really had to start from scratch (seeing no other machines are designed like this)


I am Glad to see its happening in the US for sure I was a little disappointed in price but maybe that's just because its out of my range. I am guessing these will benchmark like crazy way more than I would ever need.
Rating: 8 Votes
14 months ago
It's an awesome video. It really is a thing of beauty to see the manufacturing process.
Rating: 8 Votes
14 months ago

They are actors, the full Ad was staged. It's not the real
plant.


Um yes it is. I have two friends who work on the project.
Rating: 8 Votes
14 months ago
Designed by Apple in California. Assembled at Cyberdyne Systems Corp.
Rating: 8 Votes
14 months ago

Now the Mac Pro is launching in December, the previous advertisements was that the Mac Pro was launching in the fall. I can't wait much longer!!!!


It is still Fall until December 21st I believe...
Rating: 6 Votes
14 months ago

Technically, Winter starts on Dec 21st plus or minus a day. So fall ends Dec 20th. Does seem like they are pushing it, though. Feels like it's runnning a little behind schedule.


This is a totally new architecture for Apple - alot of radically new Macs have issues that have to be ironed out after release. I'd expect they're doing alot of bug catching at this point and the longer they take, the better.

That said, might be good to let the new Pro get out into the public for a couple of weeks and see if anything nasty turns up before pulling the trigger - its radically different from anything Apple has done before (lots of new code and hardware to er, um "work" together).

What can go wrong during assembly? Mind you that most work is done by robots, which does not promote US hiring much. Just another sales pitch. Assembled in US, made in earth. haha


I'll take it though, and I think it said that was 1,700 U.S. positions - that's alot better than made in China.
Rating: 5 Votes

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