Apple's Move to Revolutionize Sapphire Manufacturing Likely to Leave Competitors Behind

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 7, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple revolutionized aluminum manufacturing when it adopted the unibody design for its MacBook Pro line of notebooks, advancing the production process in a way that benefitted the industry as a whole. Now, the company is poised to change the nature of sapphire manufacturing in a similar way, but this time the sole beneficiary will be Apple, argues The Verge.

    When Apple introduced the aluminum unibody MacBook Pros in 2008, the company was relying on third-party suppliers to provide the material needed for the notebook line. Backed by Apple's cash, manufacturers were able to streamline and scale up production to meet demand for the new unibody machines. Once rare, processes like aluminum extrusion and forging became commonplace, with Apple "reinventing a whole new supply chain around the material."
    Apple may have kickstarted the aluminum revolution, but it did not control the production processes it advanced and the adoption of the metal spread across a variety of industries. With sapphire, Apple is taking a different approach. The company is again poised to overhaul a new manufacturing industry, but this time Apple is in a better position to keep most of the benefits to itself.

    Apple partnered with materials manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies to build a sapphire production plant in Arizona and is working on mass producing the material for use in its iPhone lineup and possibly the iWatch. Any advancements the company makes in sapphire production to make it more affordable and to scale its manufacturing output to support hundreds of millions of devices per year will stay within the walls of Apple and GT.

    Competitors will have to pursue their own sapphire manufacturing endeavors or concede sapphire to Apple and pursue different transparent cover materials to use in their devices. Most companies will be left behind as they do not have the financial reserves that allows a company like Apple to invest in a full-scale production facility dedicated to a single material used in their devices.

    Apple and GT have already started producing small quantities of sapphire in their Arizona plant, with approximately 100 furnaces online producing 2,220 kg of sapphire in early production runs. GT is expected to install more than 1,000 additional furnaces as the company ramps up production for the end of 2014 ahead of the release of the iPhone 6 and iWatch.

    Recent reports suggest Apple may incorporate sapphire into its upcoming wearable product and may outfit its high-end iPhone 6 models with a sapphire screen. The company currently uses sapphire as a covering for its iPhone rear camera lens and its Touch ID sensor.

    Article Link: Apple's Move to Revolutionize Sapphire Manufacturing Likely to Leave Competitors Behind
  2. Dekema2 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 27, 2012
    WNY or Utica
    I'm sure they signed a contract where the price won't fluctuate. Samsung will have to either pay a fortune or jack their phone prices up.
  3. moeafg macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2014
    Think we'll be getting a all sapphire iPhone in a few years :rolleyes:
  4. amirite macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2009
    So can someone tell me what the advantages of sapphire are?
  5. keysofanxiety macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2011
    Non-scratch, no scuff, extremely durable. High-end watches have them and it's an excellent material.
  6. DTphonehome macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2003
    Keeping manufacturing in the US also keeps copycats at bay.
  7. keysofanxiety macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2011
    I think you misspelt 'Samsung', buddy. ;)
  8. GenesisST macrumors 68000


    Jan 23, 2006
    Where I live
    That's good, that seems that it might possibly mean that it is a potentially proven material, maybe.
  9. nia820 macrumors 68000


    Jun 27, 2011
    It sounds cool and its's suppose to be really durable. It is a benefit for people who abuse their phones. But for people who actually take care of their phones it is unnecessary.
  10. mdridwan47 macrumors 6502


    Jan 20, 2014
    The next iPad better have sapphire. Or else I'm not buying.
  11. troop231 macrumors 603

    Jan 20, 2010
    Holding out for the diamond edition personally.
  12. keysofanxiety macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2011
    Yeah, well cars sound cool and are supposed to be really practical. It is a benefit for people who are lazy. But for people who actually walk, they're unnecessary. :rolleyes:

    Honestly though -- how can a more durable phone be a bad thing? If you want your phone made out glass and virgins' tears because you're too perfect to drop it, that's fine -- but don't take the high-ground attitude about it.
  13. yossi macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2004
    Except the transition to sapphire wont be as revolutionary as the transition to unibody aluminum.
  14. thunder1102 macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2014
    Some food for thought:

    Check out margolismatt dot com for information on Apple's sapphire plans.

    GT Advanced reports earnings today after the close.
  15. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    It should be called "sapphire glass' or "sapphire crystal." For some reason, MR always omits this distinction.
  16. viizi macrumors regular

    Dec 2, 2010
    Nice job Apple. Good to see the real leaders back out in front where they are meant to be. Hopefully this inspires the copycat company to do some of their own hard work for the good of everyone :)
  17. jrswizzle macrumors 603


    Aug 23, 2012
    McKinney, TX
    LOL winner.
  18. DTphonehome macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2003
    I was trying to be diplomatic :)
  19. AppleScruff1 macrumors G3


    Feb 10, 2011
    If sapphire is brittle and breaks easily, I'm not understanding why it is such a breakthrough for phone screens. You never hear people complain about scratching their phone screens, but you see plenty of cracked screens. :confused:
  20. lincolntran macrumors 6502a


    Jan 18, 2010
    Cars are for people who want to go fast from point A to point B. For people who go slow, horse carriages will suffice. :rolleyes:
  21. Ahheck01 macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2006
    The plasticky feeling of the iPad Air and Mini Retina have kept me from buying them - they've lost the premium feel, despite their incredible thinness and lightness. A sapphire iPad screen seems a bit ambitious to hopeful though.
  22. jacobj macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    It is incredibly hard - I know of only one person that has managed to scratch their watch and they were working with hardened engineering tools at the time.

    It is however more prone to shattering. The edges can be protected, but a direct point of impact on a large face will be interesting. I'm sure we'll see tests.

    Personally I am not too prone to dropping my phone, but I am prone to popping it in my pocket with my keys. This is a good move for me as I can have a case free phone!!

    PS Please Apple, add waterproofing too!!! I did once drop a phone in a rock pool and have the phone with me in the kitchen!
  23. jrswizzle macrumors 603


    Aug 23, 2012
    McKinney, TX
    For some reason, both my 5C and 5S are scratched to hell....never had an issue before and its not like I've been any harder on these particular devices versus any of my other iPhones.

    Honestly, I think Gorilla Glass is an overrated product and look forward to something better/more durable coming along.

    Let's face it - if you drop a glass display (any glass) it will break. I'd much rather take care of the day-to-day annoyances like scratches, scuffs and fingerprints now and figure out the indestructible glass later.
  24. 1Zach1 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 8, 2008
    Northern Va
    I don't complain about the 3-4 major scratches and 10-15 minor ones I have on my screen because it comes with the territory and doesn't make the phone unusable.
  25. designaholic macrumors regular


    Nov 10, 2007
    Bristol, UK
    True, but a wrist mounted device is more notable, much easier to scuff.

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