Apple is planning to build a new 700-employee manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona, to produce sapphire glass materials for the company’s future product. The news came via releases from the State of Arizona and GT Advanced, a New Hampshire-based materials manufacturing company. Apple has already bought the vacant building from First Solar, and made an agreement with GT Advanced to “own and operate furnaces and related equipment” at the facility.
The agreement reportedly includes a $580 million prepayment that will be returned to Apple over five years starting in 2015, and requires that GT maintains a minimum level of manufacturing capacity.
According to The State of Arizona reports, the new plant will provide more than 700 jobs in the first year and offer an additional 1,300 construction-related jobs. Apple will also be investing in new renewable energy projects to power the new facility.
Apple noted in its statement:
“We are proud to expand our domestic manufacturing initiative with a new facility in Arizona, creating more than 2,000 jobs in engineering, manufacturing and construction. This new plant will make components for Apple products and it will run on 100% renewable energy from day one, as a result of the work we are doing with SRP to create green energy sources to power the facility.”
The company currently uses small pieces of sapphire glass to provide the cameras in its devices with superior durability and scratch resistance. To protect the system on the home button for the new Touch ID-equipped iPhone 5s will require more Apple’s sapphire glass efforts. According to the earlier reports, Apple is planning to use sapphire with a crystalline form of aluminum oxide for its future smartphones.
Other sources noted that the company is not sure that sapphire displays will be feasible. A much expected device that may include Apple’s new sapphire glass production is the company’s smart watch.
Currently the sapphire glass is only used in a couple of components, but GT states that new technologies will let it expand its LED and specialty sapphire businesses.