Apple is known for making high-quality electronics including iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and more. A key component of their devices is the screens, which need to be kept clean and defect-free during manufacturing. But what does Apple use to clean the screens of their devices before shipping them out?
Apple has strict quality control standards to ensure each device that leaves their factories is in perfect condition. Part of this process involves meticulously cleaning the screens at multiple points along the production line. The screens contain fragile components so they cannot be cleaned with just any standard cleaning agent. Apple uses specially formulated screen cleaners that will not damage the glass or internal components.
Apple’s Screen Materials
The screens on Apple devices are made from specialized glass called Corning Gorilla Glass. This thin, lightweight glass is tough and damage-resistant thanks to a chemical strengthening process. Underneath the glass are the LCD and touchscreen layers containing pixels, electrodes and microchips. The exact materials vary based on the device:
- iPhone: flexible OLED display panel
- iPad: LCD and touchscreen layers
- MacBooks: LCD display panel with LED backlight
These multilayered screens require gentle cleaning solutions that will dissolve dirt, oil and fingerprints withoutreacting with the glass or internal components. Apple has to consider the perfect balance of cleaning power and non-reactivity when choosing screen cleaners.
Cleaning Requirements in Apple’s Factories
The screen cleaning process takes place in ultra-clean rooms within Apple’s factories. Workers wear protective gear to avoid contaminating the screens with dirt, skin oils or breath vapor. Here are some of the requirements for screen cleaning in Apple’s factories:
- Clean room environment from start to finish
- Filtered purified water rinsed over screens to remove larger particulates
- Solvent solutions applied to dissolve oil and grease
- Non-abrasive wipe pads to agitate and lift contaminants
- Strict protocols followed to avoid recontamination
- Multiple cleaning stages at various points in production
- Automated cleaning machines for consistent results
- Thorough rinses and drying before next production step
Maintaining ultra clean conditions ensures no residue is left behind that could interfere with the touch sensitivity or visual clarity of the displays.
Types of Screen Cleaners Used
Apple uses a combination of different cleaners to remove all forms of contaminants from their device screens during manufacturing. Each cleaner serves a specific purpose:
- Solvent cleaners: Dissolve oils and surface residue
- Detergent cleaners: Break down dirt and grime
- Alcohol solutions: Evaporate cleanly without streaks
- Deionized water: Rinse away contaminants
The cleaners contain fast-drying formulas that will not leave behind liquid pools or cleaning agents that could seep inside the display layers. They are specially engineered to be completely compatible with the glass, adhesive, and internal materials used in the device screens.
Key Examples of Screen Cleaners Used by Apple
Here are some key screen cleaning solutions used within Apple’s factories:
|Isopropyl alcohol||Disinfectant that evaporates without residues|
|Pre-saturated alcohol wipes||Quick cleaning and disinfection|
|Methanol||Removes oil and fingerprints|
|Proprietary detergent solutions||Cuts through dirt and dust|
|Deionized water||Rinses off cleaning agents|
Specialized clean room wipes are also used to apply solutions and remove contaminants. The wipes are extremely lint-free to avoid leaving behind fibers or particles on the screens.
Cleaning Robots on the Assembly Line
Within Apple’s factories, screen cleaning is automated as much as possible for consistent and meticulous results. Cleaning robots are deployed along the assembly line to clean the device screens as they pass through different production phases.
The benefits of using cleaning robots include:
- Programmable cleaning motions cover the entire screen surface
- Cleaners applied in precise, even coats
- No human errors or missed spots
- Consistent pressure and wiping action
- High efficiency over manual cleaning
The robots use specialized applicators, wipers, and vacuums to apply cleaners, agitate the screens, and remove debris. The automated systems carry out the same stringent cleaning protocols devised by Apple’s engineers.
Advantages of Automated Cleaning
Automated screen cleaning robots provide the following advantages:
|Speed||Robots clean up to 750 screens per hour, far faster than human workers|
|Precision||Every wipe and motion is programmed for exact repeatability|
|Efficiency||No wasted cleaners or motions, optimized cleaning protocol|
|Clean room control||Robots maintain ultra clean conditions throughout process|
By using automated screen cleaning technology, Apple can clean millions of screens per week while maintaining consistent quality.
Quality Control Checks
After the cleaning stages, Apple performs rigorous quality checks to confirm that each screen meets their standards. These tests include:
- Visual inspection for dirt, streaks and particles
- Light diffusion check for brightness and clarity
- Touchscreen sensitivity test
- Pixel defect check for dead or stuck pixels
- Pressing test to check for pressure marks
Any screens that do not pass these quality checks will be sent back to be re-cleaned or refurbished. This ensures only pristine screens make it into finished Apple products ready for shipping.
Final Screen Polishing
As a final polish, Apple gently buffs the screens with extremely soft cloths just before packaging the devices. This removes any last traces of cleaning solutions and polishes the glass to an optically clear shine. The finished screens are then carefully protected with plastic films before being assembled into the electronic devices.
Apple aims to develop sustainable cleaning solutions that are safe for the environment. Their screen cleaners are specially formulated to:
- Contain no harsh chemicals
- Biodegrade quickly
- Emit minimal VOC air pollutants
- Consist of non-toxic ingredients
- Be pH neutral
- Reduce waste by optimizing cleaning motions
Apple also recycles and reclaims as much cleaning solvent as possible using distillation systems. This benefits the environment while also saving costs.
Worker Health and Safety
To protect their factory workers, Apple has instituted the following measures:
- Providing protective gear
- Installing vapor extraction systems
- Automating the most hazardous tasks
- Regular worker health monitoring
- Ensuring cleaners meet safety regulations
- Training on safe chemical handling
By investing in worker safety, Apple avoids health issues that could lead to production disruptions. The safety precautions also represent Apple’s humanistic philosophies.
Apple takes an extremely meticulous approach to cleaning the screens of their devices during manufacturing. They use specialized cleaners and cleaning robots capable of dissolving oils, eliminating dust, and removing fingerprints without damaging the screens. Rigorous quality testing ensures that only immaculate screens make it into customers’ hands. Apple’s screen cleaning protocols represent the incredible care and attention to detail applied throughout their production processes. Their commitment to quality and humanistic values drive innovations that benefit both consumers and employees.