An artificial sapphire looks like a transparent white ice cylinder. It can be produced almost like a crystal of salt is grown in a chemistry lesson at school. They throw a tiny crystal into brine and wait for it to grow.
The difference is that at the Stavropol plant called Monocrystal, the largest supplier of artificial sapphires in the world, the crystallization takes place at a very high temperature and in a vacuum, and the weight of the growing crystal can reach 300 kilograms. This growth is carried out via a specialized Russian hi-tech process. It was developed in the 1970s – 80s by the Leningrad State Optical Institute and adapted for mass production by Monocrystal.
Today, the company is expanding production. Because of this, VTB Bank has granted Monocrystal a loan amounting to 900 million rubles. "VTB is a key partner bank for us,” — Lyudmila Zubova, Marketing Director for Monocrystal, said – “we enjoy a long-term and mutually beneficial cooperation."
The company’s product is required all over the world; more than 98% of its output is being exported to 25 countries.
It is the company’s policy to not disclose its customers, however: "Visiting a consumer electronics store,” says Lyudmila Zubov – “it would be difficult to find a well-known brand supplying TVs, monitors, mobile electronics, which, in one form or another, does not use Monocrystal Sapphire".
Not to give out secrets, but the firm has made the following statistic public: "4 out of 10 of the largest companies purchase our wafers; 8 out of top 10 producers of sapphire wafers purchase Monocrystal sapphire cylinders. Monocrystal is obviously a world leader in its field.
“We are fond of cutting edge hi-tech projects” — says Mikhail Oseevsky, Deputy Chairman of the Management Board at VTB Bank. “This is a guarantee of high efficiency. The company is constantly developing and we are developing with it. “
Expanding production requires investment and the bank is providing it. The funds that are received will be used to purchase new equipment, including those necessary for the development of 2-inch sapphire wafers. This crystal is used in the manufacture of the Apple Smart Watch, which premiered worldwide last summer. According to the E-government Center of expertise, Monocrystal plans to increase its manufacture of 2-inch glass from four to five million wafers per month. This will allow the company to have 30% of the respective global market by the end of 2015.