Liam – Apple’s Robotic System for Recycling iPhones

One of the more interesting topics this week at Apple’s product event was the introduction of Liam, a robotic system for disassembly of iPhones:

Liam

Click here for a cool YouTube movie.

When an iPhone is finally discarded, Liam detects, disassembles, and separate parts for recycling. Cobalt and lithium are recovered from the battery, gold and copper from the camera, platinum and silver from the main logic board, etc.  Check out apple/recycling for more information.

Makes you wonder how far automated assembly of iPhones has progressed…

Update:  Mashable has a detailed article about Liam.  The full system is about as big as a medium-sized warehouse, has 29 different arms, and can process around 11 million iPhone 6S devices a year.  Apple is continuing to fund significant R&D in automated recycling — apparently controlled disassembly makes it much easier to recycle the materials compared to conventional “shred-and-separate” methods.

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