Apple tests 3D printing methods with stainless steel for the upcoming Apple Watch 9 series

Apple 3D Printing for Watch Series 9
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Apple has a long-standing reputation for research and staying ahead of its competitors. Currently, Apple Inc. is exploring the use of 3D printers in the production of steel chassis for their upcoming smartwatches, possibly the Apple Watch 9 series. So, in this article, we will see how the company chooses to approach new 3D printing methods, market situations, pricing, and other many factors associated with it.

Apple’s test of 3D Printed Apple Watch Overview:

Vice President Rob York is overseeing the testing of 3D printing technology at Apple, and this activity is under the preview of Sabih Khan, who leads Apple’s operations.

Traditional Apple’s approach to making Apple Watches

Apple uses regular forging methods for manufacturing its stainless-steel watches, wherein a brick of materials is cut down into a smaller metal block closely matching the device’s size. This is followed by precise cutting using a CNC (computer numerical control) machine to create the device’s specific design and buttonholes.

CNC process; Apple traditional watch manufacturing method

These smartwatches represent 10% of Apple’s product line units, and improving production methods for these will significantly lower manufacturing expenses for Apple.

How is 3D printing of Smartwatches done?

The new technique uses binder jetting to create an actual size of the watch, (in manufacturing terms; the near net shape”. The print for it is made by a powered substance, which then goes through heat and pressure to squeeze into what is the traditional steels (the method is sintering).

Reportedly, Apple and its partners have secretly been working on 3D printing technology for about three years. It appears they are currently testing it for the upcoming release of the Apple Watch Series 9, scheduled for September 12.

Why change when things are going well for Apple with their current methods?

This technique can reduce the requirement for cutting blocks of metal sheets into required shapes, potentially reducing the production time for devices. Moreover, this approach has environmental advantages since it utilizes only the required amount of metal to craft the device’s outer casings.

Apple Watch Series 9

Stock Reactions to Apple’s 3D Printing Announcement

The announcement of Apple making use of 3D printing made the stock prices of companies like 3D Systems Corp. go up by 10% and Stratasys Ltd. by 6.9%. Concurrently, Apple’s stock showed a rise of 1.8%.

Consumer-focused production of 3D printed Apple Watch

There’s no guarantee the upcoming Apple watches will use this method, but Apple seems quite serious about it based on their testing and announcements. Even so, if these new-method watches do come to the market, they might not produce many of them at first. They also plan to use a similar approach with titanium for the Ultra watch series.

Reportedly, the cost of the new casing made through 3D printing is similar to the one produced using the previous method. Even though Apple’s switch to 3D printing might be costly at first, it should make manufacturing devices easier and maybe cheaper in the future.