New tech in the works: Apple to use 3D printers for Watch Series 9; iPhones and iPads later

Apple is exploring 3D printing for its upcoming devices, starting with the Apple Watch Series 9, a move that could revolutionise manufacturing. The move will also include iPhones and iPads at a later stage too.

| Updated on: Sep 04 2023, 13:17 IST
Apple Watch Series 9: Check out the rumoured specs, features, more
Apple Watch Series 9
1/5 The Apple Watch Series 9 is expected to launch at the Apple event alongside the iPhone 15 series. The event is expected to happen on September 12 or 13. ( Apple Watch 8) (HT Tech)
Apple Watch Series 9
2/5 Earlier the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Series 7 had the same chip installed which was the S8 chip. Now it is expected that with series 9, Apple may introduce new technology.  Mark Gurman from Bloomberg reported that the Apple Watch 9 may feature an S9 chip which is based on the A15 chip. (Apple watch 8) (Amazon)
Apple Watch Series 9
3/5 MacRumors also reported that the watchOS subsystem will come with a Bluetooth database. However, most smartwatches support Bluetooth so it may come as a big change for the users. (Apple Watch 8) (Apple)
Apple Watch Series 9
4/5 Tipsters also reported that the smartwatch may come in pink colour with an aluminium finish. It is expected that it will give a rose-gold look like other Apple devices such as iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad, and iMac. (Apple Watch 8) (Apple)
Apple Watch Series 9
5/5 The rumours also suggest that the Apple band may also come in new woven fabric material. Having said that, none of this is official and confirmation will only come once the product is launched. (Apple Watch Series 8) (HT Tech)
Apple Watch Series 9
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Apple is exploring 3D printing technology to manufacture upcoming devices such as the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra. (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

In a groundbreaking move, Apple is looking to revolutionise its manufacturing process by incorporating 3D printing technology for its upcoming Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra.This change might also come to iPhones and iPads in future. Bloomberg columnist Mark Gurman reports that this innovative approach promises to reduce material usage and production time, marking a significant shift from traditional CNC manufacturing methods.

Here's how it works

Apple's adoption of 3D printing is centred around a technique known as "binder jetting." This method allows Apple to create a device's chassis with remarkable precision, closely resembling its actual shape using powdered materials. A secondary step employs heat and pressure to solidify the material into a substance akin to steel, which is then finely honed through milling.

Gurman's revelations align with earlier insights shared by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Back in July, Kuo hinted that the second-generation Apple Watch Ultra would incorporate 3D printed mechanical components, suggesting that Apple was actively embracing this technology, Macrumors reported. Although Gurman indicates that the primary focus is on employing 3D printing for the chassis of stainless steel Apple Watch Series 9 models, the trajectory seems clear: Apple is exploring this manufacturing method with increasing enthusiasm in 2023, with plans to extend its use to 3D print titanium devices by 2024.

The potential benefits of this shift to 3D printing are significant. It could lead to shorter manufacturing times and, possibly, reduced production costs. Kuo, in his earlier insights, implied that if the 2023 Apple Watch models' 3D printing experiment proves successful, Apple may expand its use to more devices in the future.

Why is Apple doing this?

Apple and its suppliers have been diligently refining this 3D printing method for a minimum of three years. The intention is not just to save on materials and manpower, but also reduce wastage and above all adopt more eco-conscious manufacturing methods. Ultimately, all these technological changes are expected to provide finished products to users that cost a lot less.

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First Published Date: 04 Sep, 13:01 IST