Yesterday we learned that Apple has made an investment to build a sapphire production plant, which will make screens more resistant for future company devices. So today we bring you how the sapphire screens are made for the different smartphones on the market and if their cost is very high or not. We are not wrong if we say that technology will not stop surprising us.
If yesterday we brought you that Apple has included for its future plans, the construction of a sapphire crystal manufacturing plant in Arizona, today we show you how these resistant crystals are manufactured and how they plan to use them for the construction of the future iPhone. These crystals are more resistant than the conventional ones and will withstand serious blows and falls.
A few months ago, a sapphire glass, developed by the company GT Advanced Technologies , was presented in Barcelona. It could be the twice as resistant as the Gorilla Glass . This last one has been used and is currently used by numerous companies in the market such as Asus, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Google etc. For example, we find this type of glass in the latest terminal of Samsung: The Samsung Galaxy S4.
GT Crystal Systems, is a very central company in the city of Salem, on the outskirts of Boston, United States. One factor that we must take into account about it, is that it is not a company focused only on the production of sapphire screens, but it gives more importance to selling the necessary technology so that other companies can build these crystals. The core of this technology is based on some 60 special furnaces , which each withstand around 2100 degrees of temperature.
The manufacturing process is relatively simple . A sapphire seed, the size of a hockey puck, is placed in the bottom of a single-use molybdenum barrel , called a crucible. This crucible is then filled with a mixture composed of corundum condensate (a crystalline form of aluminium oxide) and sapphire material left over from previous mixtures.
The filled crucible is placed inside the furnace, which sits on a small platform of cold liquid helium that prevents the sapphire seed from melting prematurely . The oven is hermetically sealed, the air is evacuated from the interior, and the temperature rises to 2100 degrees Celsius, allowing the materials to melt properly.
The material is then subjected to a series of cooling cycles over the next 16 or 17 days, during which time the sapphire slowly crystallizes from the bottom up. After this period, we obtain a 115kg cylindrical section of industrial sapphire named boule . After this process of creation, all that remains is to incorporate them into the devices.
Making a smartphone with a screen of this material, is also a fairly simple process. With a machine, rectangles are cut out of this glass to specific dimensions. Then the pieces are polished and cut into slices with a thickness appropriate for each terminal. Then with a drill, holes are created to incorporate the necessary buttons of each terminal, and thus we obtain a thin and light screen protector more resistant than the Gorilla Glass.
Speaking of money, the production cost of these screens is still an important factor, but it is decreasing over time. A few months ago, these sapphire crystals cost around 30 dollars for each smartphone . Today, their price is about $15 for each terminal and with the future generation of smartphones , in 12 to 18 months, their cost is expected to be reduced to $10 for each phone .
For the future, GT Advanced Technologies, not only commits to the manufacture of more sapphire screens, but also to the sale of these special ovens to other companies . This should lead to a reduction in production costs and a considerable increase of these screens on the market. This means that in the not too distant future, we will all be able to carry our smartphone in the same pocket as our keys, coins and other objects, without worrying about whether our screen will be damaged.