Apple: Inside a Texas Face ID chip factory (video)

With a $390 million investment from Apple in hand, FInisar offers a rare peek into its VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser] manufacturing facility.

From an Apple’s press release issued Wednesday:

Sherman, Texas — Apple today announced the latest award from its $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund. Finisar, a leading manufacturer of optical communications components, will receive $390 million as part of Apple’s commitment to support innovation and job creation by American manufacturers…

Apple has rapidly adopted depth-sensing technology in recent years, leading to the development and production of the most advanced VCSELs used in the history of consumer electronics. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple will purchase 10 times more VCSEL wafers than were previously manufactured worldwide over a similar time period.

As a result of Apple’s commitment, Finisar will transform a long-shuttered, 700,000-sqare-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas, into the high-tech VCSEL capital of the US. Apple’s award will create more than 500 high-skill jobs at the Sherman facility, including engineers, technicians and maintenance teams. When combined with the company’s nearby plant in Allen, Texas, Finisar’s payroll in Northern Texas is expected to be $65 million. Hiring, capital equipment planning and infrastructure upgrades are already underway at the Sherman facility, which is expected to begin shipping in the second half of 2018.

The release includes a link to a video that takes you inside the Allen facility. Click here.

My take: Finisar has crossed my radar screen a couple times before (see here and here). This was my first peek into their operations. You’d never guess from the dozens of videos Finisar has posted in the past that this is what they do. This snoozer from Oct. 2017, for example, makes excellent industrial camouflage:

Anyway, it’s nice to see Americans making this stuff.

UPDATE: From Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster:

This investment shows the company is doubling down on AR [augmented reality] again, and locks down the VCSEL market, which will make it tough for other smartphone players to compete in AR.

7 Comments

  1. Fred Stein said:
    “Creates 500 high skill jobs”

    Supports the case that Apple’s success is good for our economy.

    1
    December 13, 2017
  2. Ken Cheng said:
    That’s a huge award, $390,000,000, from Apple to Finisar.

    If that were a tax incentive, that would be approx. $780,000 per new job created. However, this is a pre-tax award, not a post-tax credit, so no matter how many jobs created, Finisar will get that award. Congrats to them. Wishing them all the success in the World. I think they just got a great Christmas present.

    1
    December 13, 2017
  3. John Kirk said:
    There seems to be little doubt that Apple thinks AR is going to be big and that Apple wants to be in the forefront of AR development. Tim Cook has been going out of his way to talk up AR. And the iPhone X is as much proof as anyone should need to see where Apple is headed.

    AR is one of those things that is still all potential. And that potential is great. But as of now, it’s still just potential.

    0
    December 13, 2017
  4. David Drinkwater said:
    Finisar’s VCSEL manufacturing used to be located in the building that I (once again) work in today, a few miles south of their facilities in Allen and Sherman. The technology was sold off back then by my current employer (whom I wish to keep for the foreseeable future). It’s very odd to see how good ideas can be sold off.

    As an investor, I would like to hope that Apple has longer vision.

    It’s amusing to toy with the idea of joining Apple’s supply chain, but I would also like to think that I have longer vision, and I do think that what we are doing in my facility has some pretty awesome long-term potential. But, man, that temptation to be one step closer to Tim Cook: tantalizing.

    1
    December 13, 2017

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