Apple may be acquiring sapphire manufacturing components to produce 200 million iPhone displays

sapphire-boule11713Apple is preparing to kick off its sapphire manufacturing operations in a big way claims a series of reports in 9to5Mac and TechCrunch. The Cupertino company is working in conjunction with GT Advanced to manufacture the material in a Phoenix, Arizona facility.

Paperwork and internal sources suggest that Apple is procuring furnaces, chambers and other materials to make sapphire in large quantities. The company also is expecting delivery of a wire-based diamond cutting system that’s designed for material as hard as sapphire.

Apple and GT Advanced allegedly accepted delivery of 518 furnace units are awaiting delivery of an additional 430 units. This machinery could theoretically produce 200 million 5-inch panels, which cover approximately one years worth of iPhone handsets. Besides furnaces, GT Advanced also has ordered other supplies like display inspection tools that ensure only high quality sapphire makes into the production stream.

Apple hasn’t announced any products that use sapphire or a major nor hinted at its use. Speaking during a recent ABC News interview, Cook did confirm the Arizona plant was designated for sapphire production.