Word comes from 9to5Mac that GT Advanced – the company that has partnered with Apple to open a new sapphire manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona – has gotten their hands on a total of 518 sapphire furnace and chamber systems, and has another 420 machines on order.
The site also reports that analyst Matt Margolis says the company has also purchased numerous “Sapphire Display Inspection Tools” from Intego.
With such a huge amount of equipment being purchased for the manufacture of sapphire glass, all indications are that Apple will be, as multiple rumors have indicated, be manufacturing highly durable sapphire glass screens for an upcoming version of the iPhone.
Sapphire is the one of the hardest materials known to man, and is incredibly durable and scratch resistant. This is demonstrated by a video we brought to you earlier this week.
Analyst Margolis believes that the factory is currently capable of producing between 103 and 116 million displays per year, adding an additional 84 to 94 million when the additional furnaces are delivered and go online.
GT Advanced’s own documentation suggests the Sapphire Inspection Tools mentioned previously are specifically for inspecting device displays.
While GT Advanced is not owned by Apple, it could be possible that the company may be gearing up to produce sapphire glass for other customers, however, all indications point to Apple using at the very least the lion’s share of any production from the new plant.
A report in January stated that Apple and GT Advanced were “aggressively” pushing to take the Mesa plant live by February to begin the immediate production of sapphire glass as a component of Apple products this year.