One of the more interesting speculation/rumors I've heard in a while. Good idea if feasible. I would hope if true, see this thing in North America.
”I’m as proud of the factory as I am of the computer,” Steve Jobs told Fortune 18 years ago, describing the 40,000-square-foot plant he had constructed in Fremont, Calif., to manufacture circuit boards for his ill-fated NeXT, the $10,000 workstation into which Jobs poured his heart and soul after he was forced out of Apple (AAPL) in 1985.
The factory, as Jobs described it, had everything: robots, lasers, tolerances within one 10,000th of an inch, defect rates of less that 17 parts per million — one tenth the rest of the industry’s — and the speed to turn out 60 machines a day. (link)
Now, according to a pair of reports in 9 to 5 Mac and Computerworld Blogs, Jobs has built that plant’s successor: a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that is already turning out the new line of MacBook and MacBook Pros that Apple is expected to introduce on Oct. 14.
This factory, according to Seth Weintraub, a tech reporter with good sources within Apple and a knack for correctly predicting the company’s next moves, is the answer to a question that has been haunting Apple watchers for the past month: What is “the Brick”?
The Brick, Weintraub says, is not a new Apple TV, a table-sized Mac, a wireless USB hub, a Windows-smashing software breakthrough — or any of the other ideas put forward in the month of fevered speculation since Weintraub’s 9-to-5 colleague Cleve Nettles first posed the question. (See Anatomy of an Apple rumor: “The Brick”.)
What the Brick really is, according to Weintraub’s sources, is a block of high-quality, aircraft grade aluminum out of which Apple’s new laptops will be carved using robot-controlled lasers and high-powered jets of water in Jobs’ new factory.
“It is totally revolutionary, a game changer,” writes Weintraub. “One of the biggest Apple innovations in a decade.” (link)
It may also be the answer to another mystery that has bedeviled Apple watchers — the innovation that Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer, speaking at the last quarterly earnings conference call, warned analysts would cut deeply into Apple’s near term operating margins but result in something that “Apple’s competitors won’t be able to match” for years to come. (See Apple teases with mysterious “product transition”.)
Weintraub paints a picture, drawn heavily from a long piece in The Mac Observer by John Martellaro, a former NASA engineer and Apple manager, of a nonpolluting, energy-efficient, wind- or solar-power plant, built in the United States, that would free Apple of its dependence on Chinese manufacturers (and unpleasant Chinese labor conditions) and fulfill Steve Jobs’ long-held dream of moving Apple both up and down the value chain — building a legacy at Apple that could survive and prosper long after he is gone.
“An Apple factory (or two), in the right place,” writes Marellaro, “costing several billions would be a worthy endeavor for Apple and its cash. It would achieve the grandest goals for Apple’s technical future, make a contribution to the planet and its people’s well being and help insure Apple’s financial and political security.” (link)
Marellaro concludes on a wistful note: “But, sigh, it’s just an idea”
We’ll find out soon enough how much of it is true.
This is a wrench cut out of stainless steel by water jet by a guy in his garage.
What is Water Jet Cutting?
A high pressure pump in conjunction with a very small nozzel opening produces a very fine, high pressure stream of water that alone can cut many materials. An abrasive (garnet) is added to the stream of high pressure water just before it leaves the nozzel accentuating the cutting ability. This method of cutting produces a clean cut that doesn't usually require any secondary operations such as de-burring or sanding. The material to be cut is layed in the tank (which is filled with water), on top of slates. The cutting nozzel travels on an arm that can traverse x, y, and z axis allowing full cutting range. The material can either be cut submerged or above the water. The whole procedure is run from a computer attached to the waterjet using proprietary software. For more information on waterjet cutting, visit www. waterjets.org .
Not laughing at that - at the "robot controlled lasers".
If anyone were to use robot-controlled lasers, it would be Apple.
ahh - that's been around even longer but yes Jobs has long wanted a "no humans" factory.
The original Mac was often touted as untouched by human hands.
From the original press release: Introducing Macintosh 1984
Macintosh was designed from the start to be built in the millions to meet the anticipated high demand. To that end, Apple is manufacturing the product in a specially designed $20-million facility in Fremont, California. This highly automated factory can produce one system every 27 seconds. Under terms of a "zero-defect" agreement, Apple's component suppliers will test parts according to Apple's specifications before delivery to the Macintosh factory.