Why iPads have to be built in China

I always thought Apple opted to assemble its products in China because of the cheap labor costs. And while that’s surely a contributing factor, it appears there are other things keeping Apple’s factories there. It turns out that iPads contain a fair amount of rare earth elements, and these can only really be mined in China.

Apple is notoriously secretive when it comes to exact product materials, but it’s believed that these hard-to-find rare earth elements appear in the iPad’s battery, the display, the magnets in the Smart Cover and could even be used to polish the glass.

As it turns out, Apple’s not the only company in China for its elements. Many of our favorite gadgets wouldn’t exist without these elements. And, seeing as China has a monopoly on 95% of the earth’s rare earth elements and the country has strict rules about exporting them, it makes sense that production takes place there. There are a few companies in China and Australia that are looking to get into the rare earth element game, but it’ll be years before they’ll be viable alternatives.

It’s definitely interesting to get a bit more insight into Apple’s production process. What do you guys think?

 

Via: iFixIt

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  • Ed

    Rare earth elements are actually quite common, but its really cheap to mine them in China, so much so that competitors ceased operating in other parts of the world.  As rare earth element prices go up, it will become cost effective to mine them in other countries, such as the US.  
     
    http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2642