Apple will save jobs in Arizona by repurposing sapphire factory

“Apple plans to repurpose its factory in Mesa, Arizona, following the spectacular implosion of its relationship with sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies,” Luke Dormehl reports for Cult of Mac.

“The shutdown of GTA Advanced’s factory last month cost 700 people their jobs,” Dormehl reports. “Mesa and the state of Arizona had to fight hard to get Apple to show an interest in the 1.3 million square foot factory. Community leaders worked to fulfil Apple’s request that the facility run on 100% renewable energy, and also agreed to build a new power substation for the plant. Apple additionally benefited from Arizona’s decision to designate the area surrounding the building a foreign trade zone — which cut potential property taxes by upwards of 70%.”

“While it’s great news to hear that Apple may be able to make this arrangement work, after all, it will be interesting to see exactly what the repurposed the factory will be used for,” Dormehl reports. “Shortly after GTAT’s collapse, it was reported that Apple had already found new sapphire suppliers in Asia.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Apple sticking with Arizona plan after sapphire supplier GT Advanced falters – November 18, 2014


    1. For now, however, it is not clear to what type of production Apple will re-purpose the factory.

      It is sad, but for the nearest future large scale sapphire production plans have failed. GTAT will sell off the equipment in four year terms.

      If the plan would work, maybe iPhone 6s/6s+ would already have sapphire cover. But no chances for that any more.

      1. Indeed, it is not clear.

        I like to consider a possibility where the furnaces are sold even more quickly. To Apple. And production gets underway again quickly. Not likely in time for the 6s, but still a (very remote) possibility.

        1. Apple just signed the deal where it does not buy the furnaces, they are get sold to third party buyers through four year long period.

          Attempt to raise 260 kg big crystals with use of those furnaces has failed, you can not do it with such equipment.

          At best, Apple can try to negotiate with another furnaces manufacturer so they would produce bigger/better furnaces which would allow to grow such huge crystals.

          However, we have not heard of such thing yet.

      2. You got a great point, however there is some amazing development in materials that have been happening over the last while. Heck concrete technology is another area that is undergoing some amazing changes. Glass, and certainly textiles are evolving diversity as well.

        As these materials with their new properties come on line people will be loving to use them in all sorts of new and exciting ways, like what Apple is doing (or planning to do) with sapphire glass, or Gorilla glass.

        The other side of the coin is that such dynamic changes can bring along media fatigue. Consider for example pottery, one of the primal media tools developed by man. Long term sustainability, and incorporated into our dwellings. I think you’d go anywhere and you’d find in any home, plates, bowls, cups, cutlery. It’s been around for thousands of years.

        Now consider changing media, say for music recordings. Wax cylinders, vinyl, 8 track, cassette, reel to reel, CDs, and by extension DVDs, Blue rays, all the digital media (USB, hard drives in all their combinations on computers, iPods, flash drives) and so on. It’s a real tower of Babel and that’s what you get when the media changes too often.

        So the sapphire plans may be delayed but I think they will push forward. What’s important and very very nice here is that Apple is maintaining the work force, kind of like building a relationship rather than having a contract.

        I am sure they will be able to adjust and be incorporated into the Apple fold, necessity is the nature of mother invention.

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