Apple’s partnership with the now bankrupt GT Advanced Technologies has crashed spectacularly, but that didn’t stop the Cupertino firm from seeking out alternative sapphire suppliers for the coating on the stainless steel Apple Watch’s screen. And it’s found out in Russia, the country’s Sputnik News newspaper reported Wednesday.
The world’s biggest sapphire crystal
A company called Monocrystal has managed to grow the world’s biggest sapphire crystal using proprietary process technology, a feat that neither GT Advanced Technologies nor Apple’s vast network of suppliers in Asia could achieve.
“In July, the factory, based in the Russian city of Stavropol, grew a 300-pound sapphire crystal, a world’s first, using the kyropoulos method based on its own technology,” reads the report.
They have previously grown sapphires weighing 100 kg and 140 kg. According to Sputnik News, Apple uses two-inch sapphire wafers that account for about forty percent of Monocrystal’s output.
After increasing production capacity by more than twenty percent, Monocrystal should account for approximately one-third of the global market for artificial industrial sapphires by the end of this year.
Mono crystal, based out from Russia’s Stavropol, has over 25 years of experience in developing and manufacturing synthetic mono crystalline sapphire and composite pastes and powders.
They grow synthetic sapphire for consumer electronics devices, optical gadgets and metallization pastes for solar cells. And thanks to its involvement with Apple, for which it supplies sapphire glass for the Apple Watch, Monocrystal has been recognized as the largest sapphire manufacturer in the world.
“The company has ended up ahead of Japanese competitors, taking the lead in the production of sapphire,” adds the report.
While their annual revenue is only $87 million, their technology is clearly good enough for Apple and obviously better than that of other sapphire suppliers around the world.
In fact, they were among a rare few sapphire makers that turned an operating profit by the end of 2014. Sapphire is the second-hardest transparent material after diamond. The stainless steel Apple Watch screens, Touch ID buttons and camera lenses on iOS devices are all protected with a thin layer of sapphire coating.
Source: Sputnik News