Apple new iPhone to use forging process for stainless steel frame; adding Jabil as supplier

Apple’s next-generation iPhone is expected to adopt a stainless steel forging process for its new chassis frame instead of traditional CNC machining. Component orders are expected to be shared between Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) and US-based Jabil.

The next-generation iPhone is expected to abandon its conventional aluminum back cover design and will adopt a new design using two reinforced glass panes and a metal frame in the middle. The metal bezel will be made of stainless steel using a forging process to enhance its sturdiness and reduce costs and manufacturing time.

Apple’s iPhone 4 used a stainless steel frame also supplied by Foxconn and Jabil.

Sources from the upstream supply chain pointed out that the cost of the forging process is 30-50% cheaper than the current unibody CNC machine process, while quality control is also more stable.

As for whether the new design will impact operations at Apple’s existing chassis suppliers, Catcher Technology and Casetek, the sources said that Apple will still outsource orders for internal structural parts to these makers, and the stainless steel bezel will also need to be further refined by CNC machining, so the players will not be greatly affected.

For the manufacturing of the next-generation iPhone, Apple recently added Wistron as a new assembler, joining Foxconn and Pegatron Technology.

by Aaron Lee, Taipei; Joseph Tsai, DIGITIMES

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