Select Apple Watch Series 9 models will be first Apple products made with 3D printing process – 9to5Mac

Select Apple Watch Series 9 models will be first Apple products made with 3D printing process – 9to5Mac

Apple has been rumored to be considering 3D printing as part of its product design process, and a new report details how and when that change will happen. Mark Gurman at Bloomberg reports that Apple will deploy its first use of 3D printing as a test run of sorts with certain models of the upcoming Apple Watch Series 9.

Apple Inc. is testing the use of 3D printers to produce the steel chassis used by some of its upcoming smartwatches, according to people with knowledge of the matter, heralding a major change to how the company manufactures products.

The technique would obviate the need to cut large slabs of metal into the product’s shape. 

The move is intended to both increase the speed at which product assembly can occur while decreasing the amount of environmental impact, Gurman reports. The report goes on to detail the process known as binder jetting:

The print is made with a powdered substance, which afterward goes through a process called sintering. That uses heat and pressure to squeeze the material into what feels like traditional steel. The exact design and cutouts are then milled like in the previous process.

The report emphasizes that not all Apple Watch Series 9 models will be made using the new 3D printing process. Apple is expected to contain the test run to select stainless steel models, which make up a minority of the watch hardware.

Supply chain analyst Ming Chi Kuo highlighted various firms involved in the 3D printing effort in July. Kuo pointed to the Apple Watch Ultra 2 as being the first product to use 3D printed device components, but Gurman reports that the Ultra watch casing itself won’t adopt the process until next year at the earliest.

Apple will announce the new Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 at the iPhone 15 event scheduled for September 12. Apple officially announced the event date on Tuesday, although

The Bloomberg piece also mentions Apple’s plans to drop leather from its phone case in favor of a new material, as we’ve been covering. Read the full report on Apple’s test run with 3D printing from Bloomberg here.

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