Apple is already trying to get its Arizona sapphire plant up and running as soon as possible, in an effort to create sapphire for future Apple products. While there’s speculation that the material could be used for Apple’s unannounced iWatch, a patent filing revealed today also suggests there are plans to use sapphire on its iPhone and on other products.
The patent is called “Sapphire Window” and was first spotted by AppleInsider. It describes a sapphire wafer that’s laser “cut into discrete windows” and can be used as a replacement for glass screens. Here’s how Apple describes the weakness of glass, and the pros of using sapphire instead: “Each individual glass piece is lapped, polished and decorated to finally produce the glass cover or screen,” the patent states.
“The process is lengthy and includes many steps, most of which are performed on an individual basis rather than in a batch. Despite all the processing, the glass remains susceptible to damage and scratches, chips and cracks in the glass diminish the ability of the device to perform its intended purposes.” Sapphire can alleviate those concerns, thanks to its strength and resistance to scratches.
Apple said that, conventionally, sapphire is expensive and rare. Apple can cut down on those costs with its own Arizona facility, however, and its patent details a way of using lasers to cut the sapphire into windows that can be applied to “different devices including but not limited to media players, tablet computers, cameras, cell phones, and so forth.”
Again, an earlier report already revealed that Apple wants to push as quickly as possible to get its sapphire plant up and running. Now, we have an even clearer of idea of where it plans to use that sapphire. The company is hopeful mass production can start as soon as February, so perhaps we’ll see this used in the iPhone 6.