Apple Invents Efficient Laser Cutting Techniques for Sapphire

Last month, it was reported that Apple has purchased enough Sapphire crystal furnaces to manufacture up to 200 million displays for its next generation larger-screen iPhone, at its recently acquired plant in Mesa, Arizona, following a deal with GT Advanced. Today, a new Apple patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, reveals how the company has invented special laser cutting techniques for processing that Sapphire to make iPhone displays (via PatentlyApple).

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Apple describes that Sapphire’s hardness makes the cutting and polishing of the material both difficult and time consuming when conventional processing techniques are implemented. The company has therefore invented methods for efficient processing of the material. Apple’s filing shows a laser being used to roughen the surface of the sapphire, whose movement and positioning can be precisely controlled so as to create the cutting pattern.

“In the cutting step, a laser such as a microsecond fiber laser, is focused on the roughened spot to laser cut the sapphire ribbon #120. The laser may implement different pulse lengths, frequencies, pulse energies, and varying average power levels than the laser of the roughening step. Additionally, the laser may be focused at the roughened spot on the surface or at some point below the roughened spot. That is, the laser may be focus at some point in the middle of the sapphire member or near a back surface of the sapphire member, rather than on the surface which that was roughened.”

The filing notes that the system is believed to achieve efficiencies based on the equipment and processes performed in creating a sapphire member for use in electronic devices.