Apple’s new plant in Arizona has been the topic of plenty of headlines recently, and we learned in November that it has plans to manufacture sapphire there. Sapphire is known for its hardness and durability, and is often used in high-end watches because it’s so resistant to scratching and damage. There’s speculation that Apple will use sapphire for display technology, though that could prove to be incredibly expensive. Either way, 9to5Mac recently dug up information that Apple has “aggressive” plans for the plant in Arizona.
A document to Andrew McGilvray of the Foreign Trade Zone Board from Apple’s James Patton, deputy director of Global Compliance, requests for “expedited approval” or production so that Apple can meet “an aggressive go-live timeline of February 2014.” Another document says Apple is ready to begin production within 60 days.
In other words, Apple wants that plant moving full steam ahead on production as early as next month. The question remains: how will Apple use sapphire in future products? 9to5Mac says it’s “not a stretch” to expect the tech in displays for future iOS products, and Apple may even decide to use it on its rumored iWatch device. Other rumors have suggested that it will use a flexible display for that product. A patent filing, also revealed Thursday, shows how Apple could use sapphire displays on an iPhone. There are hints in the materials that Apple lists for use in the plant, however, including diamond cutting wire that’s used to create the beveled edges on Apple’s products.
One thing is certain: Apple will use sapphire in its future products. The document straight out says “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 important and then sold globally,” and that such products will “be using cutting edge, new technology to enhance and improve consumer products.”
Apple’s request will need to be granted first, but there’s obviously big plans for sapphire. If mass production of the component begins in February, then hopefully we hear where it ends up by the end of this year.