updated 11:19 am EDT, Fri March 28, 2014
Expansion thought to be geared toward increasing yields
Even though the core facility still isn't finished, Apple and GT Advanced are already planning to expand their sapphire factory in Mesa, Arizona, AppleInsider reports. The site claims that several companies have already stepped up with bids for the expansion. The plant and its grounds currently occupy 83 acres; the expansion may grow into land directly behind it, which records show are vacant and more than large enough to support a bigger complex.
It's still unclear what products Apple wants the sapphire for, but the company is believed to be eager enough to get the material that the facility is already partly operational ahead of completion, expected by June at the latest. Temporary generators are said to be in place to power production.
While the plant could simply be meant to supply the sapphire for Touch ID sensors and lens covers, Apple is rumored to be interested in display covers for next-generation iPhones and/or the iWatch. The main obstacle would be cost, but having its own dedicated sapphire plant would bring down manufacturing expenses.