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

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.

    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.
    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.

    Article Link: Apple Looking to Take Arizona Sapphire Plant Live in February for 'Critical' Component
  2. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 25, 2010
  3. macrumors 68040

    Jan 8, 2013
  4. macrumors 6502


    Mar 12, 2009
    Gorilla Glass is stronger, But which is more scratch resistant?
  5. macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2012
    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
  6. macrumors 68030


    Mar 16, 2012
    Manchester, UK
    A company saying their product is better then the others doesn't surprise me. Wether or not it is true remains to be seen.
  7. macrumors P6


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    A display for an iPhone wouldn't be considered a sub-component would it ? Isn't it more of a main component ?

    Could just be sapphire home button for the iPad and iPhone .

    Unless of course Apple is going to use sapphire on some sort of remote control device.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Aug 9, 2003
    It is not even close. Sand will easily scratch Gorilla Glass. Sapphire? Not even if it wanted to.
  9. macrumors 603


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
  10. macrumors regular

    Exotic-Car Man

    Oct 29, 2010
    Cutting-edge. I see what you did there. :D
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 30, 2013
    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.
  12. macrumors 68000


    Jun 28, 2012
    Clearly they're making lenses for military lasers. The time of corporate military world rulership is upon us!!!!!
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 19, 2008
    Not on the beach on my private island i'm going to live on. That sand will be made of nothing but diamonds. :eek::D:cool:
  14. macrumors 6502

    Feb 21, 2011
    "People have had sapphire watches 20+ years and not a mark. "

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

    May 25, 2009
    i think we all know it's blue sapphire crystal that is going to be used for iphone 6 and later ipads.

    no need to say "we dont know" or "we are not sure"


    the number one weakness of smartphone is cracked or scratched screen.

    this has been the issue since years ago. this is also why there is such a huge market for phone case and cover

    of course apple wants to do something about it

    you make it sound like it's a top secret when it's an open project known to all.
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 19, 2008
    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.
  17. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2002
    Tokyo, Japan
    You only say that because you know full well that sand doesn't want to scratch sapphire.
  18. macrumors 6502

    Feb 6, 2010
    Sapphire hmmmm

    Outside of creating a glass component are there any other functions that sapphire could improve/create? ie, batteries, etc.
  19. macrumors 6502a

    Mike Oxard

    Oct 22, 2009
    Is Sapphire more or less recyclable than glass? Does it's use improve Apples "Green Credentials"?
  20. macrumors 65816

    Aug 17, 2008
    So what do you do when something is complex, slow and expensive? You build your own factory so you can optimize the production process according to your needs.


    Sapphire. Also, please note that 'stronger' is not a measurable property. 'Strong' is a linguistical term to evaluate stiffness and/or hardness (= scratch resistant) of a material. So 'strong' and 'scratch resistant' are not really two comparable indicators.


    Yeah, but why would you hire iPhone Manufacturing Design Engineers for iWatch components?
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 19, 2008
    sapphire is just aluminum rust, I'd guess it's easy to recycle and a slight gain on their green card.
  22. macrumors 68020


    Sep 25, 2012
    I can see a bunch of dorks using the iPhone 6 for a wedding proposal to their girlfriends …. in lieu of an engagement ring.
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2012
    London, UK
    Although a lot of hype has been heard about Gorilla Glass it is not anywhere near as hard as sapphire. Sapphire is only slightly softer than diamond and a display made from it would be very difficult to scratch. There would certainly be no need to worry about it being in your pocket with your keys. Problem with this is that this quality also makes it brittle. From various patents and rumours it looks like Apple is going to be producing very thin sheets of sapphire to bond to softer shatter proof glass which could give them a composite which is extremely resistant to scratches and also shatter proof. If they can do this it would easily give them the best display glass available.
  24. downpour, Jan 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014

    macrumors 6502

    Oct 20, 2009
    If I understand correctly sapphire scores nine on the Mohs scale, making it the second hardest material in the world after diamond. :cool:

    They use it to make bullet proof glass.

    It's also made from aluminium, third most abundant element in the universe. This makes it a pretty much perfect material for Apple to use when building future durable and environmentally friendly devices.
  25. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 9, 2009
    Not a fan of Gorilla Glass after a 12-year old friend of my son's put some fairly deep surface scratches in my then-new iPad 3 playing Fruit Ninja.

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