According to a project feasibility report published by Lens in 2006, its glass manufacturing process involves the following steps: developing the tooling, cutting the raw material (mainly sourced from Germany, Switzerland and Japan), fine-milling using CNC (computed numerically controlled) machines, sanding the edges, polishing, strengthening, cleaning, coating, screen printing, baking, anti-shatter treatment, assembling, and packaging. Yeah, pretty tedious. Now, a worker from Lens' quality control department has allegedly admitted that the company's screen-printing workshop may currently be dealing with some issues with the white iPhone 4 covers. Specifically, the factory's still working out the perfect combination of paint thickness and opacity -- the former to ensure the next sub-contractor has enough clearance for the digitizer overlay, and the latter for the absolute whiteness that Jony Ive and co. strive for. As we pointed out before, the prototype white covers we acquired appeared a touch darker than the iPhone 4 dock, so here's hoping that we'll see a closer match when the official white phone comes out later this month.
Even if Apple does deliver the new batch of phones on the promised date, what about meeting the potential huge demand? According to another contractor down the iPhone assembly stream, Lens' current production capacity only meets half of Apple's demand, thus becoming a major bottleneck for the entire iPhone 4 production pipeline. Of course, this could just be smack talk from a potential competitor, and there's a small chance that other components might be affected as well, but the truth is the handset's currently in short supply -- after 3 million units since launch, Apple's online store was listing a 3-week shipping date for the black iPhone 4 at the time of writing this. Considering each CNC machine could apparently only cut out three iPhone 4 glass covers every hour, Lens will need to get its act together on the paint job and use all the machines it can get -- along with their skilled operators -- to keep Cupertino and its followers happy.