We still don’t know what Apple plans to do with all the sapphire it’s producing in Arizona, but a new report suggests the company could double the size of the “secret project” factory. Citing anonymous sources, Apple Insider reveals Apple could expand the current facility by June in effort to boost production.
The finished site would include roughly 1,700 furnaces to produce bulk large sapphire crystals, called boules, which could be used as a protective cover for future products. Apple’s remained tight-lipped on the purpose of its sapphire plant, though documents filed with the U.S. International Trade Administration earlier this year confirmed all materials produced at the Arizona facility would be shipped overseas for final device assembly.
Speculation over Apple’s sapphire plans continues to build as anticipation grows over the company’s next generation of devices. The most popular theories claim the material will be used for the iPhone 6 display or Apple’s rumored iWatch. The decision to ramp up production suggests we could see an eventual sapphire rollout to all of Cupertino’s products, similar to the way it has marketed Retina Display as a new feature on different devices over the past few years.
Unlike Retina Display, which is a measure of pixel resolution, sapphire glass would simply cover a device’s screen. The material is considered to be more durable than the Corning Gorilla Glass currently used by Apple. Sapphire already appears in the current iPhone, covering the rear camera as well as the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. However, the company’s increasing interest in the material suggests it could be getting even more use later this year.