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Apple Looking to Take Arizona Sapphire Plant Live in February for 'Critical' Component

Apple is aggressively pursuing the launch of its new sapphire plant in Mesa, Arizona for a "critical new sub-component", according to documents obtained by 9to5Mac. The company is aiming to open the plant by February.

sapphire_furnaces
Furnaces for sapphire glass production.

The documents reveal that James J. Patton, Apple's Deputy Director of Global Trade Compliance, requested expedited approval from the Foreign-Trade Zone Board to approve two requests that would allow Apple to meet its "aggressive go-live timeline" for February 2014. Recently, both Apple and manufacturing partner, GT Advanced, have been recruiting potential employees for the sapphire plant.

In addition, the documents indicate the sapphire plant would be used to create a "critical new sub-component" for use in Apple's consumer electronics. Apple currently uses sapphire glass to protect the iPhones' camera lenses and the iPhone 5s' Touch ID home button, but Apple's language in the documents suggests something more could be in the works.
Project Cascade will conduct high-tech manufacturing of intermediate goods/components for consumer electronics. All finished components will be exported. This high-tech manufacturing process will create a critical new sub-component of Apple Products to be used in the manufacture of the consumer electronics that will be imported and then sold globally. By pulling this process into the U.S., Apple will be using cutting edge, new technology to enhance and improve the consumer products, making them best in class per product type.
While it's not clear what a "new" sub-component could be, Apple could be looking to create full-screen displays made out of sapphire. Sapphire could also be used to protect the display on Apple's much-rumored iWatch.

The report also includes information on some of the other materials that will be utilized in the plant, like diamond cutting wire, which as 9to5Mac points out, is currently used in iPhone and iPad assembly to create bezels.

Just a couple days ago, Taiwan's Apple Daily reported the company's assembly partner Foxconn had begun an initial 100 unit run of an iPhone with a sapphire glass display. Last week, an Apple patent application for an Apple device with a sapphire glass display was also discovered.

Sapphire has been seen as a potential successor to high-strength glass for display covers, although Corning claims Gorilla Glass 3 is stronger than sapphire glass at a lower cost. Apple has reportedly experimented with sapphire glass displays before, but found them infeasible. It is possible, however, that advances in material and production technology have allowed the company to revisit the possibility.

Related roundup: iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

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9 months ago

Whatever this new sub-component might be, I think it's safe to assume it will create another bottleneck in the supply chain. My understanding is that producing sapphire is a complex, slow and expensive process.

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Corning claimed some time ago that Gorilla Glass has better scratch resistance, unless they are worried about sapphire killing their business. I don't think Apple will go backwards with an inferior product...

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Also, let me make it clear that I would much rather prefer Apple use diamond instead of sapphire on my devises. :D


It is not even close. Sand will easily scratch Gorilla Glass. Sapphire? Not even if it wanted to.
Rating: 7 Votes
9 months ago
Whatever this new sub-component might be, I think it's safe to assume it will create another bottleneck in the supply chain. My understanding is that producing sapphire is a complex, slow and expensive process.

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Gorilla Glass is stronger, But which is more scratch resistant?


Corning claimed some time ago that Gorilla Glass has better scratch resistance, unless they are worried about sapphire killing their business. I don't think Apple will go backwards with an inferior product...

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Also, let me make it clear that I would much rather prefer Apple use diamond instead of sapphire on my devises. :D
Rating: 6 Votes
9 months ago

Apple will be using cutting edge, new technology


Cutting-edge. I see what you did there. :D
Rating: 5 Votes
9 months ago
That photo reminds me of the Breaking Bad's lab. The one under the laundromat.:rolleyes:
Rating: 4 Votes
9 months ago

"People have had sapphire watches 20+ years and not a mark. "

One word comes to mind when I read this sentence - iWatch.


I can't wait, I think the iWatch will bring on the cyborg era, where it monitors blood chemistry and siri can act as iDoctor and tell you if your body is deficient in nutrients or to basically act as a digital instrument panel for our analog body.

Without iWatch, our bodies are just like a car with no instrument panel. you just have to guess how fast you are going and when you need gas and you only notice the engine is messed up when things get really bad.
Rating: 3 Votes
9 months ago

That photo reminds me of the Breaking Bad's lab. The one under the laundromat.:rolleyes:


Like this one?
Rating: 3 Votes
9 months ago
iPhone 6 will improve battery life by inscribing solar cells in Sapphire glass-coated screens? I hope newer iPhone's battery life is longer than 10 hours

http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2014/01/26/will-iphone-6-improve-battery-life-by-inscribing-solar-cells-in-sapphire-glass-coated-screens/
Rating: 3 Votes
9 months ago
Now don't sell it to Lenovo.
Rating: 2 Votes
9 months ago

Without iWatch, our bodies are just like a car with no instrument panel. you just have to guess how fast you are going and when you need gas and you only notice the engine is messed up when things get really bad.


What about... the brain!? When I need fuel, I feel hungry. When I have low blood sugar, I feel faint. When I'm at risk of damaging a body part, I feel pain.
Rating: 2 Votes
9 months ago

Whatever this new sub-component might be, I think it's safe to assume it will create another bottleneck in the supply chain. My understanding is that producing sapphire is a complex, slow and expensive process.

----------



Corning claimed some time ago that Gorilla Glass has better scratch resistance, unless they are worried about sapphire killing their business. I don't think Apple will go backwards with an inferior product...

----------

Also, let me make it clear that I would much rather prefer Apple use diamond instead of sapphire on my devises. :D


Gorilla glass aint that strong and for scratch resistance I would choose saphire any day. Gorilla glass scratches easy no matter what they say, every iPhone I see ends up with a blemish. People have had sapphire watches 20+ years and not a mark.

Apple has selected partners who have made great advances in production speed, yield and cost reduction which is why they are pushing it so aggressively.

Also the good thing is if we end up up with all sapphire phones then they can give different colours right within the saphire itself so no threads of what colour scratches easiest.
Rating: 2 Votes

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