Apple usually gets what it wants from its production lines, come hell or high water. The most notable exception to this rule occurred in 2014, as GT Advanced Technologies proved incapable of living up to Apple’s demanding expectations for sapphire glass screens. The partnership ended in a nasty, public bankruptcy filing, in which GT accused Apple of making impossible demands. Although Apple’s first attempt at sapphire screens ended in disaster, it seems the company just won’t give up on the idea.
The latest manufacturer to be linked with Apple’s plans for sapphire screen production is Foxconn, Apple’s factory partner of choice for the manufacture of many iPhone components. An anonymous source told Cult of Mac that Foxconn expressed interest in producing sapphire glass for Apple in 2015. Although Foxconn doesn’t have any experience with sapphire glass, it is intimately familiar with Apple’s high expectations and tight schedules.
Foxconn also has a handful of patents for sapphire screens, including one for sapphire LCD displays, protective sapphire screen covers, different ways to grow sapphire, and a laser-cutting technique for sapphire substrates that saves time by eliminating the need to grind or polish the material.
If Foxconn does indeed partner with Apple to produce sapphire screens for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, which are expected to hit the market in September of 2015, the factory would need to get to work before the spring of 2015. Cult of Mac estimates that Apple will need “3,000 165kg producing sapphire furnaces, or 2,000 262kg producing furnaces” to keep up with demand for sapphire screen iPhones in 2015.
Regardless of what Foxconn decides on the question of sapphire screen production, it will undoubtedly have its hands full for the foreseeable future, building other materials for Apple products.