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Apple Pours $390 Million In US-Made iPhone Laser Tech, Creating 500 Jobs In The Process

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Apple has announced on Wednesday, Dec. 13, that it decided to invest a hefty $390 million in Finisar, a U.S. company that makes iPhone laser chips.

The company seems on a spending spree these days as just earlier this week, it confirmed plans to acquire the music-recognition app, Shazam. This is an investment and not an acquisition, however, and it's part of Apple's Advanced Manufacturing Fund announced earlier this year.

Apple Investing $390 Million In Finisar

Finisar's manufacturing plant in Texas has been closed since 2012, but Apple's investment will change all that. The laser chip maker will use the money to get its plant up and running again and will use the facility to make laser chips that power iPhone features such as Face ID, portrait photography, animoji, and others such.

Once refurbished, Finisar's plant in Sherman, Texas will offer jobs for more than 500 high-skilled workers, including technicians, engineers, and maintenance teams. The optical communications component maker is expected to start shipping the laser chips sometime in the second half of 2018.

Apple Advanced Manufacturing Fund

Apple announced its $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund back in May as a commitment to help American manufacturers innovate and create more jobs. The first U.S. company to benefit from such an investment was Corning, which makes the Gorilla Glass displays protecting many current smartphones. Corning got a $200 million investment from Apple.

Apple's commitment to invest in U.S. manufacturing companies is largely seen as a response to President Trump's criticism that Apple is basing too much of its manufacturing needs in China. The latest investment in Finisar will enable the company to boost production, as well as research and development, to create more optical communications parts.

Finisar VCSELs

"The award will enable Finisar to exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of vertical-cavity-surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs)," says Apple.

The company adds that all of the VCSELs it will buy from Finisar will be manufactured in Texas. Moreover, Apple pledges to power all of its manufacturing in the United States using renewable energy, in an effort to protect the environment. With this new investment, Apple also aims to "push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable."

Recent rumors also indicated that Apple was working on its own laser 3D sensor for the 2019 iPhone, which would allow it to dive deeper into the augmented reality field. While that purported laser system remains in the rumor state for now, Apple's latest investment in Finisar does prove its plans to keep supporting laser-based technology in its upcoming iPhones.

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