UPDATED 10:47 EST / DECEMBER 13 2017

apple_amf_finisar_laser_20171214 EMERGING TECH

Apple invests $390M in US maker of iPhone X’s Face ID lasers

Apple Inc. will invest $390 million in Finisar Corp., an American optics company that produces components for iPhone X’s facial recognition technology. The investment comes from Apple’s $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund, which aims to create more manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

Finisar is one of Apple’s largest suppliers of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, small yet complicated components that power several of iPhone X’s more unique features, including Face ID, portrait mode selfies and Animoji.

Apple is betting heavily on VCSEL technology, and the company says that in the fourth quarter of 2017, it will purchase 10 times as many VCSEL wafers than have ever been manufactured in the same timeframe previously.

“VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we’ve ever developed and we’re thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Technology is only as good as the people behind it, and Finisar is a company with a long history of putting its employees first and supporting the community it’s a part of. We’re extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse.”

Finisar will use Apple’s investment to open a 700,000 square foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas, a small town located an hour north of Dallas near the Oklahoma border. According to Apple, the new plant will create more than 500 high-skilled jobs and will make Sherman “the high-tech VCSEL capital of the US.” Renovations and hiring are already underway for the facility, and the plant is expected to begin shipping its first components by the second half of 2018.

“When you combine our proven ability to consistently manufacture exceptional products with our new state-of-the-art Sherman facility, we’re confident we can achieve our shared goal of providing consumers with incredibly exciting features,” said Jerry S. Rawls, chief executive of Finisar. “Finisar has always been keenly aware it takes great people to power our work and that’s why we’re thrilled to be adding Sherman to our family.”

Sherman Mayor David Plyler said that the town is “thrilled that Finisar and Apple will be a part of the Sherman business community,” adding that the city has adopted a pro-business culture and has been working to improve local infrastructure and amenities for residents and workers.

Finisar’s Sherman facility will work in conjunction with its existing offices in the nearby town of Allen, making the combined payroll of Finisar’s North Texas operations roughly $65 million.

Photo: Apple

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