Apple’s partnership with GT Advanced Technologies isn’t a secret anymore, with the latter expected to provide sapphire crystal to Apple for various purposes related to the company’s iPhone, iPad and iWatch production. And now it looks like GT will have two plants growing sapphire glass for Apple.
Analyst Matt Margolis, who recently revealed Apple may mass-produce more than 200 million sapphire display covers this year, found a new SEC filing from GT that provides more details about the retrofitting of a second GT location.
The company has transformed its Salem, Massachusetts R&D facility into a manufacturing factory, which can supply up to 20 million additional sapphire screens each year according to Margolis, on top of the estimated 200 million units mentioned before. The Salem plant measures just 50,000 square feet, and it’s significantly smaller than the 1,300,000 square feet Mesa, Arizona, GT plant.
The Salem facility has been growing sapphire since the fourth quarter of 2013, Margolis further reveals.
So far, Apple has been using sapphire glass to protect the rear camera of some devices and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor of the iPhone 5s, although the company is rumored to replace Gorilla Glass with sapphire on future iPhone 6 models – or at least on the 5.5-inch one.
It’s also likely that Apple will continue using sapphire glass for the cameras of upcoming iOS devices, and will also need it for Touch ID sensors that are expected to equip more products this year, including upcoming iPad models.