Apple’s Newly Discovered Manufacturing Prowess?


The ‘Brick' is… | 9 to 5 Mac

There's news that Apple is going to announce new laptops. I love my MacBook that I just bought earlier this year, but I'm not an Apple “Fanboy” (this was my first Mac ever).

What caught my eye about these new products are the rumors about manufacturing process. Huh? Normally, we talk about “speeds and feeds” (a term borrowed from manufacturing, strangely enough) — how fast is the processor, what are the features, etc? Nobody talks about how computers are built anymore since it doesn't seem to matter, especially if Dell is going to sell its factories.

The MacBook manufacturing process up to this point has been outsourced to Chinese or Taiwanese manufacturers like Foxconn. Now Apple is in charge. The company has spent the last few years building an entirely new manufacturing process that uses lasers and jets of water to carve the MacBooks out of a brick of aluminum.

Wow, that's pretty cool, if it's true. Laser and water jet cutting isn't a brand new technology, by any means, but it would be new for laptop manufacturing.

I've always thought Apple (and Steve Jobs — well, they're one and the same) didn't care about manufacturing. But the article I've linked to claims otherwise:

This isn't entirely new. Steve Jobs has always had a fondness for having his own plant to produce computers. In 1990, he built a totally automated plant in Fremont California (thanks PED) that could build NeXT machines with only 100 workers. It was a “plant with just about everything: lasers, robots, speed, and remarkably few defects.” Unfortunately, the demand wasn't very high at the time. However, Jobs remarked, “I'm as proud of the factory as I am of the computer.”

Here's another post that speculates that Apple might even build a factory in the U.S. That would be pretty unbelievable. A Mac “made in America”?? That post quotes a 1990 FORTUNE article that claimed:

Until recently the 40-person manufacturing staff had more Ph.D.s than the group designing the NeXT machine.

Stay tuned….

Update: Here's a picture of the rumored single-piece case.

Subscribe via RSS | Lean Blog Main Page | Podcast | Twitter @MarkGraban

Please check out my main blog page at

The RSS feed content you are reading is copyrighted by the author, Mark Graban.

, , , on the author's copyright.


Get New Posts Sent To You

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Anonymous says

    Too bad they won’t invest in more modern technologies and systems for their supply chain. They’re in the stone age.

  2. Mark Graban says

    Anon — in which ways are they in the stone age? What should they do?

  3. Neutron Jerk says

    Funny use the the word “brick” since a dead iPhone (or similar deviced) is said to be “bricked.” Not a positive connotation. Probably more an internal code word than any real marketing name.

  4. Mark Graban says

    The new “unibody” MacBooks have been announced today.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.