Apple is testing 3D printing to manufacture the new Apple Watch: Report

A shopper holds an Apple Watch Series 8 on sale at the company’s Fifth Avenue store in New York, Sept. 16, 2022.

Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple is testing the use of 3D printers to make the stainless steel chassis for its soon-to-be-released smartwatches, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Right now, Apple Watch chassis are made by cutting slabs of metal into the right shape. The 3D printing methodology would reduce both the time needed to make the devices and the amount of material being used, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Apple is reportedly initially testing the tech in production for the upcoming Apple Watch 9, and if all goes well, the company will integrate it into the manufacturing process for more products in coming years, people familiar told Bloomberg.

Apple also intends to apply the 3D printing process to the next iteration of the titanium-enclosed Apple Watch Ultra sometime next year, but the company hasn’t yet been able to mass-produce the 3D-printed aluminum enclosures used in Apple’s Mac and iPad lineup, Bloomberg reported.

Ultimately, Apple plans to source both recycled aluminum or steel for use in its enclosures, per a 2017 goal that the company reaffirmed in 2022.

Recycled aluminum use has already become relatively standard for Apple. By 2021, the company reported that 59% of all aluminum used in products came from recycled sources, with “many products” using 100% recycled aluminum in their enclosures.

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