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Apple’s $10.5B on Robots to Lasers Shores Up Supply Chain

Apple Inc. is putting a record $10.5 billion to work in new technology -- from assembly robots to milling machines -- that consumers will never see.

To get a jump on rivals like Samsung Electronics Co. and lay the groundwork for new products, Apple is spending more on the machines that do the behind-the-scenes work of mass producing iPhones, iPads and other gadgets. That includes equipment to polish the new iPhone 5c’s colorful plastic, laser and milling machines to carve the MacBook’s aluminum body, and testing gear for the iPhone and iPad camera lens, said people with knowledge of the company’s manufacturing methods, who asked not to be identified because the process is private.