Liam, Apple’s recycling robot, can take apart an iPhone in seconds

At Apple’s “Let us loop you in” event on Monday, Apple introduced a robotic cutting tool called “Liam,” which automatically scans old iPhones and disassembles them into their core components. The system has been under development for nearly three years, and will initially focus on the iPhone 6.

The market for e-waste recycling is expected to grow 10.7% by 2019. The Liam system consists of 29 robotic modules that can take apart one iPhone every 11 seconds and recovers valuable materials such as aluminum, copper, tin, tungsten and others. However, Liam will only be able to handle a few million phones per year, which pales in comparison to the 231 million phones sold by Apple in 2015. 


Robotics are being increasingly used to perform complex tasks and increase efficiency, and the market for robotics is expected to grow 29.11% by 2019. The global e-waste management market size is projected to reach $5.04 billion by 2020. A second Liam is being installed in Europe, Apple said.