After a false start in 2014, will Apple finally use sapphire display covers in 2016?
Investing activities continues in sapphire display cover supply chain? Why?
Apple will represents 20% of 2015 global sapphire consumption with its iPhone and watch sapphire components. But Lens recently announced plans to raise US$942M and invest US$532M of the proceed to further increasing sapphire growth and finishing capacity. In 2014, Apple, its partners and their suppliers spent close to US$2B to set up a sapphire display cover supply chain. GTAT built and installed 2135 ASF furnaces, Biel and Lens deployed close to 200 wire saws and 1000’s of finishing tools and ancillary equipment. But the projects faced many problems and Apple eventually gave up on sapphire for its iPhone 6. Reasons were multiple but can be summarized in “too early, to fast, too much”. The project was ambitious in its timeframe and targeted outputs while many of the necessary processes and technologies in crystal growth and finishing were still at an early stage of development. But the venture still set the stage for the future: the partners have developed an unrivalled expertise on how to work with sapphire in high volumes and cost controlled environment. A lot was also learned with the manufacturing of the complex 3D shaped Apple Watch cover...