Apple invests $390 million in US manufacturer Finisar, maker of VCSEL lasers used in iPhone X and AirPods

iPhone X TrueDepth Sensor

As part of its billion dollar Advanced Manufacturing Fund, which supports domestic US manufacturing, Apple has announced a $390 million investment into Finisar. This follows a $200 million Corning investment earlier this year.

Apple says that Finisar makes vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers used in iPhone X (as part of the TrueDepth camera system) and the proximity-sensor inside AirPods. All of the VCSELs purchased by Apple from Finisar will be made in Texas.

Apple announced its intentions to invest a billion dollars into US manufacturers earlier this year. The money invested in Corning and Finisar make up more than half of the initially pledged $1bn total.

Finisar has risen to prominence in Apple’s supply chain thanks to iPhone X, which uses VCSEL components for the front 3D depth sensor.

Apple has used VCSEL from Finisar in AirPods since late 2016, which detect when a user inserts and removes an earbud.

Apple says it will purchase ten times more VCSEL wafers in the fourth quarter of the year than were manufactured worldwide in the previous year.

In a statement, Apple COO Jeff Williams said Apple is thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years.

“VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we’ve ever developed and we’re thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Technology is only as good as the people behind it, and Finisar is a company with a long history of putting its employees first and supporting the community it’s a part of. We’re extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse.”

The $390 million injection will increase Finisar’s R&D and increase production volumes. The company will hire more than 500 high-skilled employees at a new 700,000 square foot plant in Texas. All of the manufacturing for Apple orders will be serviced by 100% renewable energy.  The new facility is expected to go into operation in the second half of 2018.

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