Yesterday, Apple announced plans to open another factory on U.S. soil, this time in Arizona, and The Wall Street Journal is now reporting the new plant will be used to produce the sapphire ingots used in a number of smartphone designs. The transparent scratch-resistant material is used for the iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner, and also implemented by other companies for multiple purposes, including covering the phone’s camera lens.
Following supply constraints on the iPhone 5s and predictions that the iPad mini with Retina will suffer from similar issues, Apple has increased spending to shore up its supply chains. This new Arizona plant should keep the company well supplied in sapphire for the iPhone 5s and future devices. With sapphire demand expected to spike by over 50 percent in 2016 it’s a smart move on Apple’s part.
The news should also help improve Apple’s image, which has been tarnished by the fact that most of its products are manufactured and assembled at massive factories overseas where long hours, poor conditions and low pay are the norm. The Arizona plant will reportedly create 2,000 American jobs through a partnership with GT Advanced Technologies and will be powered entirely by renewable energy.