back to article New US Apple factory will make INVINCIBLE sapphire glass for SHINY iThings

Apple is planning to open a new factory in Arizona in partnership with mineral crystal firm GT Advanced Technologies, to make sapphire components for its devices. The fruity firm would seem to be trying for some PR benefit as well as some super-tough scratchproof glass to use in gadgets or iWatches of the future. Apple probably …

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"Google may also be looking to buff up its image a bit, since it has spent the year defending itself against similar tax questions to those faced by Apple, as well as trying to settle an antitrust case over search dominance "abuse" in the EU."

Just wondering how opening a factory in Texas helps its image in the EU?

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Never send a computer guy to do a material scientists job

Sapphire is very hard and strong, which is why the best watch glasses are made from it. However, it's crystal structure makes it cleave pretty easily, as anyone (like me) who has worked with it knows. And the probability of tapping it just the right way to cleave goes way up the larger the piece of sapphire is. That's why it works well for small windows like on watches. It would not surprise me if Apple goes to all of this trouble only to find the incidence of iThing (other than watches) displays cracking when dropped stays the same or goes up.

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Re: Never send a computer guy to do a material scientists job

Is it possible to create vitreous aluminium oxide in suitable sizes? That could solve the problem if it's properties are like those of thin films of glass. (0.1mm glass is supposed to be amazingly flexible and very hard to break*. I'm still waiting for helmet visors with 0.1 mm glass glued to the outer surface:(

*New Scientist, nineteen ninety mumble IIRC

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Re: Never send a computer guy to do a material scientists job

Its sapphire-coated glass. The bulk strength comes from the glass, the surface hardness from the sapphire. Like you find on expensive watches, and it says in the article.

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Re: Never send a computer guy to do a material scientists job

They use it for the camera lenses, or at least the class the covers the lense, rather than the touch screen.

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Re: Never send a computer guy to do a material scientists job

(Cover glass)

Yeah, and it works quite well as an indestructible window, but it gives everything everything a purple tinge, depending on entry angle of the light.

Chunks of gorilla glass as small as a lens cover are tough enough for all practical purposes ("the phone was a write off but the lens cover was fine") however a lot of makers seem to insist just using pieces of clear plastic (I'm looking at you Samsung!)

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Ditch the aluminium

There's got to a market for a Sapphire and Steel iPhone.

[young people: google it]

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Re: Ditch the aluminium

I'm waiting for transparent aluminium.

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Re: Ditch the aluminium @frank ly

Damn, came on to post that and you beat me to it.

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Re: Ditch the aluminium

Sapphire is already transparent Aluminium (oxide)!

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Re: Ditch the aluminium

Isn't it transparent aluminium oxide, which is annoyingly close!

Ahh! Beaten by a whisker.

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Re: Ditch the aluminium

Computer? Hello, computer!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ditch the aluminium

Transparent Aluminum, shurely?

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Re: Ditch the aluminium

I think 'frank ly' might have been referring to Aluminium Oxynitride.

Another way to make aluminium work as a display of sorts (though not transparent) is to drill lots of tiny holes in it:

http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/29/apple-patents-invisible-button/

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Happy

Re: Ditch the aluminium

I think "frank ly" might have been referring to Star Trek IV.

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Happy

Re: Ditch the aluminium

So many people thinking similarly regarding Star Trek IV and Scotty. I feel very much at home.

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Alien

Transparisteel

This is the stuff I want!

Transparisteel is a transparent metal alloy 'used' in Star Wars. It is used to make windows and viewports on all manner of ground, air and spacecraft.

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Re: Transparisteel

The original movie version of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea had the submarine Seaview being unique because unlike normal submarines, it had big windows thanks to a transparent form of metal, so this is actually an idea in popular science fiction that long predates Star Trek IV as well as Star Wars.

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Beginning of the end?

Amidst the normal barrage of anti-Apple publicity I wonder if this is a sign the Apple Inc. is starting to go down the pan. In wanting to please its home market and bringing manufacturing back to the USA will this see a dip in the build quality of Apple products compared to the ones built in the far east? My, admittedly limited, experience of American-made products fills me with dread for future iDevice investments.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Beginning of the end?

and cue Family Guy's Excellence in Broadcasting episode, showing that even the Yanks have reservations about US build quality.

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Terminator

Re: Beginning of the end?

Check out the 'making of' video for the new Mac Pro, that's made in the USA, mostly by robots. I'd imagine most of those jobs will involve dumping raw materials into hoppers and loading boxes of packaged devices into trucks.

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Re: Beginning of the end?

Lots of companies are reshoring their manufacturing, not just Apple. There are two reasons for that. Firstly, thanks to fracking, energy prices are now much cheaper in the US than in China, so that makes the USA more competitive for energy intensive processes. Secondly, wage rises in China mean that the difference in salaries between Chinese and American workers isn't as high as it used to be.

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Re: Beginning of the end?

I certainly buy "American made" as little as possible, such as tools, appliances and vehicles. For example, I now depend on my Japanese-made motorcycle instead of my American-made car.

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Anonymous Coward

Love, Love, Loving the fact that...

...its creating jobs in Arizona instead of California,

700 Jobs is small compared to the size of the company, but hey, its new jobs for Arizona and their economy.

Years ago when Californians wanted to boycott Arizona for passing laws to help enforce US Immigrations laws....and now look at what is going on.

Way to go for GT and Arizona.

I know Apple is mostly doing this so they can stamp "Assembled in USA" or "Designed in USA" on their devices. It's wordplay, but I'm glad Arizona is reaping the rewards for it.

~Best wishes keeping what you earn.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Love, Love, Loving the fact that...

Years ago when Californians wanted to boycott Arizona for passing laws to help enforce US Immigrations laws...

um no, Californians wanted to boycott Arizona for enacting draconian police state legislation that undermines fundamental civil rights.

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Meh

Re: Love, Love, Loving the fact that...

They probably picked Arizona because there are so many immigrants willing to work for minimum wage. And I wonder what other perks the state of Arizona gave Apple?

I suspect the state wont make much tax revenue, and 650 of the 700 employees will be paid at near minimum wage rates with lousy benefits.

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molecular design...

Sapphire today....

...an enzyme that makes diamond screens tomorrow ;-)

Seriously, science rocks...

P.

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700 jobs?

They clearly need more robots

FWIW once robot assembly becomes cheap enough there's no need whatsoever to site your manufacturing based on meatsack labour costs.

Foxconn aren't robotising the assembly lines to cut down on workers, they're doing it to prevent being made redundant by cheaper/more accurate manufacturers.

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Coffee/keyboard

Holy Rounded Rectangles!

Apple is actually making something itself?

And not in China?

"in partnership with ..."

Oh, never mind.

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Re: Holy Rounded Rectangles!

+1 for Holy Rounded Rectangles, this needs to be said more often on Apple stories :)

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