Apple's Arizona Sapphire Facility 'Commencing the Transition to Volume Production'

gt_sapphire_furnaceApple's sapphire partner GT Advanced Technologies today announced financial results for the second quarter of 2014, acknowledging publicly that the companies' facility in Mesa, Arizona is "commencing the transition to volume production."

"The build-out of our Arizona facility, which has involved taking a 1.4 million square foot facility from a shell to a functional structure as well as the installation of sapphire growth and fabrication equipment, is nearly complete and we are commencing the transition to volume production," Gutierrez continued. "We remain confident about the long-term potential of the sapphire materials business for GT.

Overall, GT reported a net loss of $86 million for the quarter, a result that is not unexpected given that the company is significantly restructuring itself as part of the Apple deal, essentially shutting down its sales of sapphire furnaces to other customers in order to devote all of those resources to setting up the Arizona facility for Apple. The facility is owned by Apple and being run by GT, with Apple providing some upfront financing to help get production rolling.

GT allocated over $45 million to "sapphire production ramp up costs" during the quarter, with the company stating that those costs relate to "production inefficiencies and inventory losses" associated with building out its facilities and are not part of ongoing operations for the company. That amount is up from just $1.9 million in the prior quarter, signaling the company's massive move to launch production for Apple.

GT also confirmed that it expects to meet the targets outlined in its deal with Apple, allowing to receive the final $139 million prepayment from Apple by the end of October.

Apple has used sapphire for the camera lens cover on several iOS devices and for the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s, but the company is pursuing a massive increase in sapphire usage for future products. The iPhone 6 display has been rumored to include a sapphire cover, but rumors are divided on whether the material will be included on all models or just higher-end models, as well as whether the entire cover will be full sapphire or a thinner lamination layer.

Apple's rumored iWatch has also been speculated to include a sapphire cover, as the material is fairly common on high-end watches to minimize scratching.

(Image: GT sapphire furnace)

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Top Rated Comments

Ries Avatar
129 months ago
I find those haters that praise companies like Samsung and attack Apple at every opportunity, and trolls that are so blind to their devotions that they go to the extent to suggest that Apple is in trouble/Apple is never wrong/Android and Windows are better.

I just found it laughable.

However, I believe that people (and the press, shareholders, etc.) should pressure Apple to do more stuff like this.

Basically, with few hundred million dollars, they cornered the Saphire market and will only profit directly (their products) or indirectly (selling Saphire to others).

Why isn't Apple doing the same with Tesla's Gigafactory? Why isn't Apple investing in "power" (general resources, green energy, sell it)? Heck, not even a bank-like operation with so many cash?

Visa would quickly **** their pants.

If every initiative went wrong, Apple would recover in 1 month, while getting a lot of potential extra billion dollars each quarter and not depending as much on hardware sales.

Then again, what do I know? I'm nobody. Yet. :)

Remember Nokia? They owned the phone market until they ****ed up. Their peak value in todays dollars would be ~375B dollars, the value of Apple a year ago.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheHateMachine Avatar
129 months ago
I find those haters that praise companies like Samsung and attack Apple at every opportunity, and trolls that are so blind to their devotions that they go to the extent to suggest that Apple is in trouble/Apple is never wrong/Android and Windows are better.

I just found it laughable.

However, I believe that people (and the press, shareholders, etc.) should pressure Apple to do more stuff like this.

Basically, with few hundred million dollars, they cornered the Saphire market and will only profit directly (their products) or indirectly (selling Saphire to others).

Why isn't Apple doing the same with Tesla's Gigafactory? Why isn't Apple investing in "power" (general resources, green energy, sell it)? Heck, not even a bank-like operation with so many cash?

Visa would quickly **** their pants.

If every initiative went wrong, Apple would recover in 1 month, while getting a lot of potential extra billion dollars each quarter and not depending as much on hardware sales.

Then again, what do I know? I'm nobody. Yet. :)
The only thing that is certain is death and taxes. It would be foolish to say that Apple could do anything and recover from any disaster or blunder. You never know what could be right around the corner.

trolls that are so blind to their devotions
:rolleyes:

Remember Nokia? They owned the phone market until they ****ed up. Their peak value in todays dollars would be ~375B dollars, the value of Apple a year ago.
Many companies have been rolling in the cash and plowing through history like a freight train only to get caught up in a quagmire and either went away in the night or greatly diminished. Nothing is infallible, yet some would have you believe that Apple is.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Azzin Avatar
129 months ago
In before "There's no 5.5" iPhone, so it can't be for that".
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TWSS37 Avatar
129 months ago
Ladies and gentlemen, here is your annual iPhone shortage production constraint
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
129 months ago
'Commencing the Transition to Volume Production'

Colonel Sandurz: Prepare ship for light speed.

Dark Helmet: No, no, no, light speed is too slow.

Colonel Sandurz: Light speed, too slow?

Dark Helmet: Yes, we're gonna have to go right to ludicrous speed!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iamMacPerson Avatar
129 months ago
I hope this means both the 4.7" and 5.5" iPhones get sapphire glass displays along with the iWatch.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)