Reports: New Apple Plant in Arizona to Make Sapphire Crystal for Unspecified Devices

By Ed Silverstein January 31, 2014

Locally, one of the biggest news stories in Mesa, Ariz., is how a 36-pound cat, named Meatball, was turned into a local animal shelter. But there is a tech story involving the city which potentially has national and even global implications.

It relates to how Apple is planning to open a plant in Mesa in February which will produce sapphire crystal for company devices – maybe even future ones, 9 to 5 Mac reported. Apple will run the plant along with GT Advanced Technologies, and it now appears that Apple will produce sapphire for use with its products “as soon as later this year,” the report adds.

Just how the sapphire will be used is largely speculation. 9 to 5 Mac predicts it could be used for displays for iPhones, solar panels, or glass for Apple wearable technology, or even for the Touch ID iPhone Home button and iPhone/iPod touch camera lens covers. Yet, the report speculates the sapphire could be used, too, for coverings of iPhones, and possibly iPads, iPods, and iWatches screens. Recently, it was reported how Apple and Foxconn are conducting tests of sapphire iPhone displays. They would resist scratches, as well, if made from sapphire.

The Mesa plant may also use diamond cutting wire, which has been used to make current Apple products, and alumina block, which may be used for making sapphire crystal, 9 to 5 Mac said.

So far, Apple CEO Tim Cook only said the Mesa plant will be used to make sapphire crystal for unspecified future devices, VentureBeat reported.

In one Mesa plant-related document from the U.S. Foreign Trade Zone office, cited by 9 to 5 Mac, it was stated, “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.”

In reviewing Apple’s options, VentureBeat said Apple uses sapphire for making iPhone camera lenses, now. Sapphire is “three times stronger and more scratch resistant than the Gorilla Glass screens currently used on iPhones,” the report adds. Apple also uses sapphire for the ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S, CNET said.

Based on this speculation, maybe Apple will soon produce some cutting-edge new technology that virtually cannot be cut or scratched.




Edited by Rory J. Thompson

TechZone360 Contributor

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