Apple has committed to investing nearly $400 million into a laser company.
The tech giant on Wednesday announced that it will invest $390 million into Finisar, a company that manufactures laser technology, including vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs). VCSELs are used in Apple’s Face ID face scanner, as well as its Animoji and Portrait Mode features built into the device’s front-facing components. VCSELs are also used in Apple’s AirPods earbuds.
Apple’s decision to invest in Finisar is steeped in its apparent desire to invest more heavily in laser technology in the coming years. In a statement, Apple said that it has “rapidly adopted depth-sensing technology in recent years” and will buy “10 times more VCSEL wafers than were previously manufactured worldwide over a similar time period.” Apple is rumored to be working on laser technology for the rear of an iPhone it might release in 2019, which could make Finisar even more important in its future plans.
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Apple’s investment comes from the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund that it announced earlier this year. Apple’s Finisar investment comes months after the company gave $200 million to Corning to fund that company’s glass manufacturing efforts. Corning is another major supplier for Apple’s iPhones.
In a statement, Apple said that its Finisar investment will be used to restore a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas that will be used to produce VCSEL. Apple said that its investment will help Finisar create more than 500 jobs. The plant will open in the second half of 2018.
Apple was also quick to note that all of the VCSELs Apple buys from Finisar will be made in Texas, a nod to the company’s plans to invest heavily in U.S.-based manufacturing.