According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is experimenting with 3D printing for making their watch chassis.
Apple is preparing for a major shift in the manner in which it produces its world famous gadgets — using 3D printing technology to build its devices, starting with Apple Watch.
Mark Gurman of Bloomberg reported on 30 August that the Cupertino, California-based company is testing the use of 3D printers to build the steel chassis for its upcoming smartwatches.
Gurman’s report comes after analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in mid-July 2023 that Apple was planning to use 3D printed titanium mechanical parts for a future Apple Watch Ultra.
The Bloomberg report comes a day after it was confirmed that Apple is set to release the iPhone 15 on 12 September.
Everything about Apple’s experiment with 3D printing
Focus is first on Apple Watch Series 9
Citing sources, Gurman confirms that Apple is indeed working with 3D printing technology. The technique has been in development for at least three years and experiments have been on for the past several months with stainless-steel cases for the Apple Watch Series 9, which will be released on 12 September.
It is, however, not clear if the first Apple Watch Series 9 devices will be made using the new technique. In any case, a similar shift for the titanium Ultra watch’s manufacturing process will not happen till 2024.
Gurman observes that stainless steel is used as casing in only a few Apple Watch devices, most of which are made from aluminum. The report says that Apple might apply the process for other products manufactured by it over the years if the experiment with Apple Watches is successful.
Like Kuo, Gurman says that the 3D printing process will help reduce the time to manufacture the devices and cut costs.
More about Apple’s 3D printing process
Gurman’s report says that Apple is testing a 3D printing process known as “binder jetting.” It produces the near approximate general outline of the device. The material is then passed through a process known as sintering which squeezes the material into “what feels like traditional steel.”
It is then passed through CNC (computer numerical control) which creates the exact design and cutouts. The CNC is also applied on the currently used manufacturing process which involves forging.
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This story originally appeared in Augustman India