The iPhone 15 may be the headliner at the Apple September event, but there’s still plenty of excitement surrounding the Apple Watch Series 9 debut. While there will certainly be upgrades to this year’s wearable over last year’s, we’re more fascinated by a recent report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman that indicates Apple will start using 3D printing processes with some Apple Watch Series 9 models.
This builds on a rumor from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last month explaining how Apple may use 3D printing technology to create tiny titanium pieces on the Apple Watch Ultra 2. The company is starting small with 3D printing, but eventually, these processes could be enhanced for Apple’s larger devices, like smartphones or tablets.
What’s the big deal with 3D printing Apple Watch parts?
The two big benefits of Apple using 3D printers for wearable parts include eliminating unnecessary waste and reducing overall costs and production speed. Typically, components are cut from a large slab of metal, and there ends up being a lot of excess material after parts are cut out. This wastes material and money, whereas 3D printing creates the perfect amount of what you need and decreases the environmental impact.
Gurman explains that Apple is using a process known as binder jetting to create the Apple Watch Series 9 chassis. Binder jetting starts with a powdered substance, goes through a process known as sintering that “uses heat and pressure to squeeze the material into what feels like traditional steel,” and ends with a milling process to smooth out the final shape.
Right now, the company is just playing around with 3D printing the chassis for stainless steel Apple Watch Series 9 models, which 9to5Mac says “make up a minority of the watch hardware.” Because there’s less demand for these steel models, there’s less risk if anything goes wrong with mass 3D printing this vital component for the Apple Watch Series 9.
There's going to be quite a bit to cover at the Apple September event, so it'll be no surprise if we don't hear directly from Apple about 3D-printed components of the Watch Series 9. In the meantime, be sure to check out everything we know about the Apple Watch Series 9 so far to see if you should pick one up when it's available.
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