Daisuke Wakabayashi on the screens likely to find their way into the next iPhone:
Mass-producing sapphire is complex. Sapphire crystals are grown in massive furnaces at high temperatures. After the ingredients crystallize in an energy-intensive process, the result is a giant hockey-puck-shaped cylinder called a boule, which is carved into different shapes. Apple’s Arizona plant is using next-generation furnaces capable of producing boules larger than 440 pounds.
By forming boules more than 50% larger than produced by current machines, Apple and GT aim to drive down the price of sapphire and close the gap with glass.
Chalk it up to: things you can do when you have over $100 billion just laying around.
(As an aside, I keep thinking of this.)