Arizona pulls out all the stops to land Apple’s Sapphire Plant in Mesa

Posted: February 11, 2014 by mattmargolis24 in Mesa Sapphire Plant
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A tremendous article was published today by Bloomberg written by Adam Satariano entitled Apple Wooed by Arizona as Obama Seeks U.S. Jobs Comeback.”  The article highlights Apple’s quest for a manufacturing facility in Mesa as well as the a non-disclosure Apple made Mesa officials sign to keep the talks quiet.  For those lovers of sapphire and sapphire screens Adam  Satariano reached out to Eric Virey, an analyst from Yole Development, whom I follow closely.  Eric believes the Mesa Plant will be able to produce 80 to 100 million phones.  It’s important to note that no details were provided as to how Eric came up with his estimate including the # of furnaces were not included in his estimate.  Eric’s comments are below on Sapphire and the full article can be seen here at Bloomberg.

 

Making Sapphire

The material requires furnaces to spark a reaction in which cylinders of sapphire grow over about a month, then can be sliced to less than a millimeter thick for use on gadget screens, said Eric Virey, an analyst with Yole Developpement, a research firm that studies the market.

Apple’s Mesa plant will make an “unprecedented” amount of synthetic sapphire, Virey said.

“When it’s operating at full capacity, this plant is going to be producing as much as two times the current worldwide capacity,” he said. The factory will be able to make enough sapphire for 80 million to 100 million iPhones a year, he said.

The process is highly technical and requires a small and well-trained workforce, Virey said. That makes Apple’s new facility unlike those run overseas by manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group (2354), where thousands of workers put iPhones and iPads together by hand on an assembly line. U.S. factories make sense economically when they have expensive and complex equipment that require skilled workers to operate, said Jim McGregor, a technology industry analyst who lives in Mesa.

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