Apple says it will award Finisar $390 million from its $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund. The money will go toward R&D spending and high-volume production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), Apple says. Such VCSELs will be used to support smartphone and other consumer product capabilities.
For example, VCSELs currently enable Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies with the iPhone X TrueDepth camera, and other popular Apple features, as well as the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods. In recent years, Apple has adopted depth-sensing technology that it asserts has led to the development and production of significantly improved VCSELs. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple says it will purchase 10 times more VCSEL wafers than were previously manufactured throughout the world over a comparable time period.
To help meet such demand, Finisar will convert a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, TX into what Apple attests will be the VCSEL capital of the U.S. The Sherman facility transformation will result in 500 new job positions, including engineers, technicians, and maintenance teams. Hiring, capital equipment planning, and infrastructure upgrades have already begun, and the facility is expected to begin shipping in the second half of 2018.
Apple says Finisar expects payroll in northern Texas to be $65 million when joinedwith the company's nearby plant in Allen, TX. The company plans on obtaining enough renewable energy to cover all of its Apple manufacturing in the U.S., and 100% of the VCSELs that Apple purchases from Finisar will be manufactured in Texas.
Apple spent over $50 billion with more than 9,000 domestic suppliers and manufacturers last year. In May, Apple announced that the first award of $200 million from the Advanced Manufacturing Fund went to another company with optical communications ties, Corning Inc., to support their R&D, capital equipment needs, and advanced glass processing.
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