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Apple Investing $10.5 Billion in Robots, Lasers, and Other Manufacturing Technology

Apple Investing $10.5 Billion in Robots, Lasers, and Other Manufacturing TechnologyLast month, we wrote a post about the manufacturing technology that’s going into Apple’s new Mac Pro. They’re making some pretty impressive stuff, but as it turns out, the technology showcased there is only the beginning.

New reports–like this one from the Washington Post–are saying that Apple is set to spend $10.5 billion on new manufacturing technology for upcoming products. Yes, you read that right–that’s billion with a “b.”

Apple has long been known for their unique designs, but this investment marks a significant step forward for the company. There aren’t many other tech companies who are as involved in manufacturing technology as Apple, and it seems clear that they want it to stay that way.

Here are a few things that Apple is doing with the money:

  • Hiring robotics experts: Apple is hiring more robotics experts to work out in the field. These experts are used to make sure products made at factories overseas are as good as they can be, and it’s always useful to have people in the field. New equipment is great, but so is having employees on-site who are capable of servicing equipment.
  • Designing custom-made manufacturing technology: The problem with new tech that’s hitting the market is that a lot of it is hard to produce. Past manufacturing methods created by Apple include a contraption to test accelerometers in iPhones and iPads, or “a method for putting an anti-reflective coating on Mac computers by adding an electrical charge to the display,” as noted in the Post–to name a few. We expect that much of the money being invested will go towards even newer techniques, but we’ll have to just wait and see.
  • Building factories: Though this money isn’t coming directly from the $10.5 billion here, it is coming from Apple’s cash fund. Apple isn’t just buying machinery for its factories–it’s actually building factories itself. That allows the company to have full control over manufacturing processes, and gives them a lot of freedom on the manufacturing front.

Of course, that’s hardly all of what Apple is going to do with the money (robots and lasers are part of the equation, too). But even so, it represents a good portion of the cool technology in Apple’s future.

Even for a company that holds nearly 10% of all corporate cash held by nonfinancial companies (their cash reserves stack up at roughly $147 billion), this type of investment is pretty incredible. And we think that it means exciting things for the future of manufacturing.

At a time where it seems like advanced manufacturing couldn’t really get much more advanced, this is a reminder that it can. And whether that technology is used in the new Mac Pro, a new iPhone, or even just a basic machined part, we’re just excited to see how the industry continues to grow. Although you certainly won’t find us complaining about a cool new phone along the way.

Photo courtesy of Atomic Delight

 

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