Utilizing a method known as “binder jetting”, Apple is aiming to construct a device’s framework closer to its final shape using a powdered substance. This powder is then exposed to heat and pressure to form a material with properties similar to steel, which is later refined through milling.
This aligns with previous speculation from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who had mentioned back in July that Apple was “actively adopting 3D printing technology” for some of its devices, including the upcoming second-generation Apple Watch Ultra.
Although it was initially reported that the 3D printing would be used for the Ultra models, Gurman notes that Apple is currently applying this method for the stainless steel Apple Watch Series 9 devices.
The technology is also expected to extend to titanium device components by 2024. If successful, this 3D printing initiative could significantly expedite production timelines and lower manufacturing costs, making it a likely candidate for broader application across Apple’s device range.
This is not a whimsical experiment for Apple; Gurman confirms that the company and its suppliers have invested at least three years in the development of this 3D printing methodology.
If tests on the Apple Watch Series 9 prove to be fruitful, the company plans to expand the use of this technology across a wider range of products in the coming years.