Apple Sapphire Plant Nears Completion, Readying for Mass Production

Apple Sapphire Plant Nears Completion, Readying for Mass Production

GT Advanced Technology’s fiscal report for the second quarter of 2014 says its massive sapphire glass production plant in Mesa, AZ is nearing completion, indicating that the company’s joint venture with Apple is just about ready to start mass production of the tough glass in the near future.

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“The build-out of our Arizona facility, which has involved taking a 1.4 million square foot facility from a shell to a functional structure as well as the installation of sapphire growth and fabrication equipment, is nearly complete and we are commencing the transition to volume production,” said GT Advanced CEO Tom Gutierrez. “We remain confident about the long-term potential of the sapphire materials business for GT.” (Via AppleInsider)

The quarter ending in June saw GTAT bring in $58 million in revenue, a nice jump from the previous quarter’s $22.5 million in revenue, but well below 2013, due to the buildout of the new sapphire glass plant. The company posted a net loss of $86 million in the second quarter.

GTAT’s sapphire-related revenue hit $44.1 million in Q2, up from $5.6 million in the previous quarter. GTAT’s ramp-up for sapphire production at the new plant has come at a cost, $45.5 million in Q2, as opposed to less than $2 million in Q1 of 2014.

Last November saw Apple reach a deal with GTAT worth $578 million, and the Cupertino firm has handed out three prepayments so far, with the Q2 prepayment amounting to $103 million.

Apple has used sapphire on their devices in the past, so far limiting its use to the iPhone’s Touch ID sensor, and the rear-facing camera’s lens. The company is expected to soon use the über hard material on a larger scale, possibly as a display cover for a future model of its flagship iPhone handset. However, recent rumors have thrown cold water on reports that the sapphire material would be used for the iPhone 6, saying production issues may delay the use of the glass in 2014.

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