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the story of the lamp (continued)

Making Tungsten Wire.


Close to the Tungsten Laboratory is a department where some very interesting operations are carried on. But in order not to interrupt the tungsten chapter in the lamp story, we shall put that department on one side for a moment.

What we have now to watch is the change from tungsten powder to tungsten wire. Pressure, heat, electricity and a mighty hammering are the four agents in this extraordinary change.

As the first step, a quantity of tungsten powder is packed into a narrow channel between thick steel walls. A slab of steel closes this channel and makes a box of it. The whole arrangement is then placed in a hydraulic press and subjected to such enormous pressure that the slab squeezes the powder into a stick-about the size of an ordinary stick of sealing-wax-which, although brittle, can be picked up and handled with a certain amount of freedom. The powder, in fact, has been squeezed solid; but it is not solid enough to be "worked."

A heavy current of electricity is now passed through the stick of tungsten, which is hung vertically in a protecting envelope of hydrogen and nitrogen gas during the process. The heat generated by the current welds the particles of tungsten together-they "cohere," as the technical phrase goes and the brittle stick becomes a metal rod, fit for mechanical treatment.

The treatment it receives is drastic enough. It is heated and hammered until it is drawn out long and thin-a process known as "swaging." The deafening noise made by the swaging machine is a token of the vigour of the process, which has the effect not only of lengthening the rod into a thick wire but of making the metal more ductile-that is to say, more capable of "flowing " and being drawn out into finer and finer wires.



Wire-drawing is an ancient industry, but one that never loses its fascination. To watch a short rod being transformed, stage by stage, into an enormous length of the thinnest wire is to gain a new a sense of the inveterate ingenuity of man. Yet the process is quite straight-forward. It consists of forcibly drawing the rod-which is first heated-through a hole a little smaller than the rod, the metal lengthening as it is drawn. Again it is heated and drawn through a still smaller hole; and so on until the desired fineness of wire is obtained.

One thing that puzzles people who see tungsten wire-drawing for the first time is how the end of the wire is got into a die smaller than itself, so that the rest of the wire may be drawn through. The secret lies in a tiny crucible where a chemical sodium nitrite is kept boiling. The end of the wire is dipped into this chemical and is almost immediately eaten away to a sharp point. So sharp, indeed, is the point, and so strong the wire, that the almost invisible spear of tungsten can be driven for an inch or so into one's flesh.

The metal actually gains in toughness with each drawing; it is the die through which it is drawn that suffers. Diamond dies are used, and examination proves that after they have been at work the holes increase in size and sometimes get out of shape. As it is most important that the wires in electric lamps should be exactly of a certain size, a careful watch has to be kept on the dies.

In the Osram Works, machines are constantly employed to regrind the dies. Each die, when worn, is re-ground to the size next above its original size, so that there is no waste of costly gems. The grinding is in itself a most interesting process. It is done by means of ordinary sewing needles, which are moved


round and round inside the hole, very much as a gardener moves a spud round and round in the earth to make a conical depression. What could be more curious than that a steel needle, with a little diamond dust and oil, should be able to grind diamond, which is almost the hardest thing in the world! The process is, as one might expect, extremely slow, the red-grinding of a diamond die occupying as long as three weeks in some cases.

The final stages in the process of wire-drawing leave the wire conveniently wound on bobbins. As already hinted, the lamp maker needs to know the exact thickness of the wire he is using. A lamp to be used on a 200 volt circuit must have a filament different from that of a similar lamp intended for a 100 volt circuit. Now, it is possible to measure directly the thickness of a wire which is so fine as to be hardly visible to the naked eye. It is possible., but extremely difficult to do so accurately. Even in lamp making, the longest way round is the shortest way home, and what is done in the Osram Lamp Works is to weigh a certain length of the wire. 200 millimeters of the wire is snipped off-it is easy enough to do that accurately-and the piece is weighed in a very delicate balance. Knowing the weight and the length the thickness can be calculated.

As a matter of fact the girls who carry out this operation calculate nothing. The balances are so calibrated that the thickness of the wire is directly read off a scale, the whole business taking only a few seconds. The same indirect method is used to determine the diameter of the dies, a short length of wire being pulled through each and weighed, the size of the wire being, of course, the size of the die. The bobbins of wire are, like reels of cotton, classified according to thickness and arranged ready to go downstairs to the appropriate sections. The molybdenum metal referred to at the end of the last chapter is also coaxed into the form of wire by similar methods and wound on reels for use on the support inserting machines.

Building up the "Foot."

We have now brought glass bulbs and bobbins of tungsten wire together. The next step is to build up the stem-or "foot" as it is often called-on which the wire is mounted.

A glance at an ordinary electric lamp, such as is used in our homes, will show that the filament is carried on wire supports springing from a glass rod. This rod, in turn, is carried on a glass tube which has been flattened where it joins the rod. Looking closer, one sees that two wires go straight through this flattened part and Join up to the filament, and that, from a small hole in the tube, just below the pinched portion, an inner and smaller tube runs down into the interior of the lamp cap. The purpose of this tube will appear later. These wires are known as "leading-in" wires; and although they seem a mere trifle they are tremendously important and have had a wonderful history. How important they are, will become clear when we see how the "foot" is put together. For the time being we shall take them for granted.

The outer tube of the foot is cut from a length of tubing, and one end opened out into a kind of bell-mouth in a gas flame. Originally the cutting and bell-mouthing was done by hand; now it is done in a machine which automatically cuts and feeds itself with pieces of glass tube, softens the end of each in a flame, and then brings up a small instrument, something like a spinning spear head, which opens out the softened glass. The inner tube and the rod are simply cut to length and need no other preparation.

In another machine the tube, the rod and the leading-in wires are welded together-again in gas flames. All these component parts a THE OUTER TUBE OF THE FOOT IS CUT FROM A LENGTH OF TUBING AND ONE END OPENED OUT INTO A KIND OF fed separately into the machine, which holds them in their proper relative positions. As in many other machines in the Osram Lamp Works, the parts under treatment move in a circle, stage by stage; and at each stage a new operation is performed. Here, in the first stage, flames play on the lower end of the tubes and gradually soften them. Then, when everything is ready, a pair of pinchers comes forward, squeezes the outer tube flat over the leading-in wires, and welds the flattened part to the glass rod and inner tube. A gas flame is then directed on to the surface of the outer, or flanged, tube just opposite the point at which the inner tube is melted into the "pinch," once more raising the temperature of the glass at this spot above its melting point. At the same time a jet of air is directed into the bore of the small exhaust tube, causing a bubble of glass to form at the heated spot and almost simultaneously to burst, thus providing the desired communication between the exhaust tube and the outer surface of the flange tube. When the whole assembled "pinch" is, afterwards, sealed into the bulb-by welding the flange of the former to the neck of the latter-the tube is therefore the only means of communication between the interior of the lamp and the outside atmosphere.

Fixing the Supports.

Ingenious as the last d SEAL WITH THE SUPPORTING WIRES INSERTED.escribed machine certainly is, it must give place, as a mechanical marvel, to the machine used in fixing the supports into the glass rod.

These supports are short lengths of fine wire, bent into a hook or a pig-tail twist at the end. The wire is made of molybdenum which is very springy and withstands the high temperature of the filament.

As in most of the processes of lamp making, these supports were originally put in by hand. The glass rod was melted at the end and also near the top, where it was squeezed to form thicker portions, known as "roses" or "buttons." The operator then picked up previously made supports in a pair of forceps and pressed them one by one into a part of the button softened in a blowpipe flame.

The girls engaged on this work developed a remarkable degree of skill, fixing in support after support with a neatness and speed which almost made a machine seem unnecessary. Nevertheless, the use of machinery was called for, in order to keep pace with other processes. Two types of machine are employed in the Osram Lamp Works. One inserts the supports singly, the foot being turned a little after each insertion to bring the next into its correct position. The other inserts an entire set of supports-which may be as many as seventeen-in one operation.

This second machine is so complicated and is so quick in action that its movements are, very difficult to follow. WINDING FILAMENT ONTO SUPPORT FOR VACUUM LAMPThis very difficulty, however, adds to the fascination it exercises. After the operator inserts the foot, the machine forms the roses in a gas flame, cuts off the right lengths of molybdenum wire, forms a little hook or pig-tall loop on the end of each length, and bringing the other ends forward simultaneously, pushes them into the softened roses. All this is done in as little time as it would take to insert two or three single supports by hand.

The "one-support-at-a-time" machine works on much the same principle and is used in certain cases, because it is more flexible. That is to say, the number of supports to be inserted can be altered more readily. The "all-supports-at-once" machine is used in departments where large numbers of lamps of exactly the same pattern are made.

Here we may mention that everything used in the making of Osram lamps is carefully inspected at every stage in the process of manufacture. This is done so that any fault, however trifling, may be detected before time and material have been wasted in producing a lamp which is not up to the Osram standard. For example, every machine-made foot is tested to make sure that the ends of the wires are not too close to each other in the glass where they have been embedded. If they are too close or touching, there will be a leakage of current from one to the other. The test is made in an instant by bringing the ends of the wires into contact with electric terminals. If the wires are not quite in order, a lamp lights up and gives effective warning of the fault. Similarly, appropriate tests are repeatedly applied to the various components during manufacture, and also to the assembled lamps after each of the stages by which they approach completion.

Mounting the Filament.

With the fixing in of the supports the "foot" of the lamp is complete and ready for the filament. The latter has, however, to be prepared for mounting. Tungsten wire is not only very tough, but very easily tempered and in the case of the ordinary vacuum lamp full advantage is taken of these good qualities in winding on the filament, which goes up and down in a zig-zag fashion from one set of supports to the other.

Before mounting, the wire is kinked at points which correspond to the bend at each support, this kinking being done in a machine known as the "jazz" machine, because of its lighthearted movement. Wire is unwound from the bobbins, as prepared in the wire-drawing department, and is caught up on a drum carrying two rings of small pegs. As the drum revolves, the wire is "jazzed" over one peg after another and is thus given a, zig-zag shape, but if something were not done to "set" it, it would go back to its original form when released. So, automatically, a current of electricity is sent for an instant through each limb of the wire while it is still on the pegs, thus annealing it and reconciling it permanently to its altered shape.

Emerging from the "jazz" machine, the wire is seen to be bent at regular intervals. So excellent is the temper of tungsten that the bends remain even after the wire is re-wound on spools, unwound once more to pass through a bath which coats it with certain chemicals, and yet again re-wound to be passed to the mounter.

The actual mounting is still done by hand. As an operation, filament mounting is not perhaps so finnicking as fixing supports, but to do it swiftly and correctly calls for a very high degree of skill.

Firstly, the end of the filament is fastened to one leading-in wire. Then it is-wound up and down from one set of supports to the other. Lastly, it is fastened to the other leading-in wire and simultaneously cut off.

The "fastening" referred to is done by the only piece of machinery which the operator has to assist her. It is a power pincher, the laws of which cut the tungsten wire and press the end right into the substance of the leading-in wire.

The whole process sounds simple and looks simple. You see a girl bring the leading-in wire and the filament together and operate the pincher. With deft movements she strings the filament as she turns the foot round; finally she brings the pincher into action again and completes the circuit. She does these things without haste, but also without wasting a single moment. If she is clever she will perform the whole cycle of operations over two hundred and fifty times in an hour-this being an average over an entire week, allowing for rest and for interruptions.

It may here be mentioned that in order to encourage the spirit of emulation, the speeds attained by the various operators in each department are placarded week by week. The girls enter into the competition with a real sense of sport, which is not spoiled by the fact that payment is according to output, on a scale which rises very steeply after the standard output is exceeded.


Assembling the Foot and the Bulb.

Having mounted the filament on the foot the next step is obviously to mount the foot in the bulb. In the next machine the bulb is placed with its open mouth hanging downwards over the foot, which is placed in the position which it will finally occupy in the lamp. What has now to be done is to close the mouth of the bulb over the flanged end of the foot, and once more gas flames are called into play. They are concentrated on the glass, gradually melting it and blowing it inwards until it flows into contact with the foot and becomes one with it. The melting is done step by step, while the parts move around in a circle and each bulb is rotated to get a perfectly even effect. Finally, the excess portion of the neck, which has dropped by its own weight below the level of the foot, is cut off by finely pointed flames.

Exhausting the Lamp.

Exhausting is the succeeding stage; and when we reach this most vital process we realise at once the reason for the little tube which protrudes from the interior of the foot. All the air has to be taken out of CLOSE-UP VIEW OF EXHAUSTING MACHINE the lamp and the tube is the passage through which it is withdrawn.

During exhaustion the lamps are enclosed in a heated chamber and connected to pumps which extract the air. A whole world of scientific invention has gone to the perfecting of the pumps and of every detail of creating the vacuum that nature
is alleged to abhor. The long experience gained in the production of carbon lamps from 1893 onwards has been invaluable to the Osram Lamp Works in improving and speeding up the process of exhaustion. Incidental to the process, in the case of the vacuum lamp, is the use of a special substance, curiously called the "getter," which is applied as a coating on the filament, before the latter is mounted. In the process of exhaustion, as in so many other processes in the making of Osram Lamps, automatic machinery has been developed. It is used for all standard sizes of Osram Lamps, and it carries out the whole process of exhausting-and, if necessary, gas-filling-and sealing off by rotating machinery.

All that the operator has to do is to push the exhaust tube of each,lamp into a rubber bung. As each lamp moves round a system of valves connects it successively to each of a series of vacuum pumps. While it is thus being exhausted it is heated by gas flames inside a metal hood to drive off the gases which cling tenaciously to its inner surfaces. By the time a lamp has made one circuit of the machine the exhaustion is complete, and it is sealed off automatically, by a small two-flame burner which melts off its exhaust tube, thus sealing. it hermetically. So completely automatic is the process that even the piece of tube left in the rubber bung is removed mechanically to make room for a new lamp. Each lamp spends only two and a half minutes on the machine, which delivers exhausted bulbs at the rate of one every 5 1/2 seconds.

Testing for vacuum is carefully carried out for every lamp. In a darkened cupboard each bulb is subjected to an electrical discharge; and if any gas remains it reveals its presence by a faint bluish glow. This is in addition to a similar test applied on the exhausting machine itself, which ensures that every lamp, as it approaches the sealing off point, exhibits the quality of its vacuum to the machine operator.

Secrets of Leading-in Wires.

If we examine the lamp at this stage, we shall be ready to understand a very important point about the leading-in wires. They are lines of communication between the air outside and the vacuum inside; all the rest is a continuous envelope of glass. Were the contact between the wires and the glass not absolutely close, were ever so tiny a passage left between the wire and the glass through which it runs, air would gradually leak into the bulb and destroy the vacuum.

It is essential, therefore, to find a wire which will not, in cooling, shrink away from the glass. Some metal must be chosen which will expand when being heated, and contract when cooling, at exactly the same rate as glass, so that the two act as if they were one. This equal expansion and contraction must, moreover, be maintained all through the wide range of temperatures from that of molten glass to ordinary atmospheric temperatures.

Until recently, platinum was the metal generally used for this purpose. It worked admirably, but it is a very expensive metal, being much more costly than gold, and lamp makers were obliged to weld a tiny piece of it on to copper wire in order to obtain a leading-in wire that would be at once efficient and reasonably cheap. In the Osram lamp of today, however, no platinum is used. The wire actually employed is made in a special department of the factory.

There we find a very interesting collection of apparatus. On one side of the room are electro-plating baths in which bars of nickel steel are coated with copper, being rotated rapidly in the bath to ensure a close and uniform coating of deposited copper. The plated bars are then drawn down, stage by stage, into fine wire which is at the end still copper-coated nickel steel.

Those of a mechanical turn of mind will be disposed to linger over the large wire-drawing machines, in each of which eleven stages of reduction are carried out at once. They are a marvel of ingenuity. The practical point, however, is that the composite wire they produce acts as well for leading-in wire purposes as platinum but at a much lower cost.

Capping and Testing.

The final stage in the actual manufacture of the lamp is known as capping, and is carried out on another of those circular stage-by-stage machines so familiar in the Osram Works.

A brass cap is filled with a special cement and placed on the top of the lamp with the leading-in wires protruding through small holes in the metal segments which make contact when a lamp is placed in a lampholder. As the lamp moves round the cement is baked hard by an electric heater, fixing the cap


firmly to the bulb, and finally the protruding ends of the leading-in wires are cut off and a small quantity of solder put on to join them to the metal segments.

One very important business remains before the lamp can be placed in stock-its efficiency as a light-giver must be tested. This is done by means of a photometer (light-measurer) specially designed to give results at once accurate and rapid. The instrument depends on balancing the light of each lamp under test against the light of a standard lamp; simultaneously with the candle-power the current taken by each lamp is noted. These two items-light and consumption-form the basis on which lamps are classified.

So much care is taken at each stage in manufacture that every Osram lamp which passes the photometric test may well be relied upon to give satisfactory service. Nevertheless, in order to make assurance doubly sure, samples are taken at random from every batch of lamps and subjected to life-tests, and in order that these tests may be absolutely independent, this duty is entrusted to the Research Laboratories of The General Electric Company Limited at Wembley.



The Gasfilled Lamp.

As a child of the vacuum lamp, the gasfilled lamp has a general res emblance to its parent. But there are important differences. Most important, of course, is the invisible one that the bulb contains gas.

It has long been known that the effect of introducing an inert gas, such as nitrogen or argon, into the bulb of an incandescent electric lamp is :-

1. To cool the filament.
2. To reduce the rate of filament evaporation.

The maximum efficiency (or minimum watts per candle) at which a lamp is capable of being run, is limited by the temperature at which the filament can be maintained; other things being equal the higher the temperature the greater the efficiency. The temperature to which the tungsten filament can be heated in a lamp is limited by the evaporation of the filament.

Evaporation sets a limit to the permissible temperature, partly because it causes the filament to waste and eventually to break, but more particularly because the evaporated substance is deposited on the bulb and, being opaque, obscures the light.







The function of the gas in a gasfilled lamp is to prevent evaporation of the filament and accordingly make possible the use of higher temperatures, without either accelerating the blackening or shortening the life of the lamp. The gas, however, operates to cool the filament by taking energy from the wire in the form of heat and carrying it wastefully away to the walls of the bulb. In order to make the gasfilled more efficient than the vacuum lamp, it is necessary that the gain in efficiency. obtained by raising the temperature of the filament must exceed the loss due to this cooling effect.

It is pointed out in patent 10918/13 that to fulfill this requirement the filament must be comparatively thick, indeed much thicker than is practicable for ordinary commercial lamps, and since the length and diameter of a tungsten filament for a lamp of given candle power and voltage are unalterable, it would seem impossible to achieve this result.


This difficulty, however, is overcome by an ingenious device which is one of the inventions claimed in the master patent. The relation between the thickness and resistance of any filament which leads to the difficulty, holds only so long as the current flows straight along the filament; if it could be made to flow in the same filament along a much longer path, the resistance would be increased but the surface unchanged. This result is effected by making the filament a closely wound spiral of very fine wire, which, in respect of light emission and heat loss in the gas, acts very nearly as if it were a short wire, of the same thickness as the external diameter of the spiral, whilst still having the high resistance of a long thin wire.

A further effect of introducing gas (also mentioned on the patent) is to convey the evaporated particles to the top of the bulb. For this reason the bulb of the Osram Gasfilled Lamp is "club-shaped," this shape being chosen to offer considerable cooling surface to the hot gas rising from the filament whilst the small amount of evaporated tungsten is deposited where the slight blackening does not obscure the light.

Broadly, the making of a gasfilled lamp follows the same lines as that of a vacuum lamp. All we need explain here, therefore, are the processes which are peculiar to the former.

The first is the winding of the straight wire into a spiral. Originally this was done by hand, but very soon the Osram Lamp Works evolved machines to do the business more rapidly and more accurately than was possible by hand work. In these machines a bobbin carrying tungsten wire revolves round a straight wire called a "mandril." As the mandril travels slowly along, the tungsten wire forms a spiral round it.

If we watch a machine doing this work for the large types of gasfilled lamps we will note that at short intervals there is a pause in the process. During each of these intervals the wire is not spiralled, so that in the end there is, not a continuous spiral, but a series of spiral lengths joined by short straight sections. When the winding is completed, the wire is carefully drawn off the mandril.

As we follow the lamp making a little further we see the reason for these straight pieces. The spiral filament is mounted in a horizontal circle which, in some of the large lamps, is zig-zagged to get more wire into the circle. Looking at such a lamp closely, we see that the supports hold the filament at the straight pieces, the spirals running from support to support.

It is only in the larger gasfilled lamps, however, where the filaments are comparatively thick and heavy, that the mounting is done in this way. The smaller lamps, such as are used for domestic lighting, have a continuous spiral. This is so thin and fine that it could not be drawn off the mandril without stretching the spiral and spoiling the perfect evenness which is needed to make a satisfactory filament. In order to get over this difficulty, a very ingenious device is used. The filament is wound on a thin wire of soft brass; and after completion the whole is immersed in a bath of nitric acid, which dissolves out the brass and leaves the spiral of tungsten wire unaffected.

At the next stage this spiral is cut into lengths, each length being of the exact size for mounting in a lamp. In order to make quite sure that each length is perfect and contains the correct length of wire, it is weighed in a very sensitive balance and any length that is too light or too heavy rejected.

The mounting is done very much in the same way as with a vacuum lamp, the wire being hung on the supports. There is, however, only one set of supports, and stout nickel wires are used to connect the ends of the filament with the copper-clad leading-in wires in the glass stem. This connection is made by electric welding-an operation taking only a fraction of a second.

One might imagine that, as the bulb is to be filled with gas in any case, little trouble need be taken about getting a perfect vacuum in making a gasfilled lamp. The truth, nevertheless, is "very much otherwise," and paradoxically enough, a good vacuum is even more essential for a gasfilled lamp than for a, vacuum lamp. Particular care is therefore taken to extract all the air and other gases after the stem and bulb have been assembled and when a first-rate vacuum is attained, a mixture of pure argon and nitrogen gas is introduced into the bulb by a modification of the valve gear mentioned in the description of the exhausting machine in an earlier chapter.

Argon is one of the romances of science. It lay hidden long after it was believed that every constituent of the air had been discovered-so much oxygen, so much nitrogen, and a trifling amount of a few other familiar, things. That seemed all-until a discrepancy between the nitrogen that ought to be in the air and that was in the air, set the late Lord Rayleigh hunting for the reason. The reason was the presence of argon- a gas so inert, chemically so absolutely lazy, that it could hardly be induced to give a sign of its existence.


As already explained, the presence of this gas in a lamp bulb enables the filament to be run extremely hot. The filament heats the argon, making it rise to the upper parts of the lamp where it is cooled and descends again, keeping up, this circulation continuously.

In the larger gasfilled lamps will be noticed a transparent disc of mica surrounding the stem. This disc acts as a baffle to the rising current of hot argon, and prevents overheating of the glass surrounding the leading-in wires, which, since glass loses its insulating properties very rapidly as its temperature rises, would otherwise be liable to electrolytic decomposition by current passing between the wires embedded in its substance.

When the gasfilled lamp first came on the scene it was made only in large sizes. Now it is produced in sizes ranging from dazzling units of 10,000 candle- power down to lamps suitable for domestic lighting. It is also made in many special forms for cinematograph lanterns, and for optical purposes; while there is a host of low-voltage gasfilled lamps for motor cars, railway carriages and other special uses. Each main class of gasfilled lamp has a complete factory section to itself at the Osram Lamp Works, so as to ensure rapid production with the highest degree of skill.

The "Osglim" Lamp.

It may seem a strange virtue in a lamp that it should give very little light. Yet this is the virtue that distinguishes the "Osglim" lamp, which has a corner of the Osram Lamp Works all to itself.

The "Osglim" is a gasfilled lamp, but it has no filament. The gas it contains is called neon, and in place of a filament it has two pieces of metal known as "electrodes." When the lamp is "on," the electricity passes through the neon gas from one electrode to the other, and the gas glows round one of the electrodes with a soft rosy light.

So the "Osglim" makes an ideal night-light. And by virtue of the fact that the glowing electrode can be cut to any shape, such as a letter or a figure, the "Osglim" can be used to build up an electric sign.

Inside the cap is a flat coil of wire; the wire is very thin and it is insulated with a thin coat of enamel. Its purpose is to act as a "resistance" to prevent more than a tiny amount of electricity passing through the lamp.

As the "Osglim" takes so many forms-letters, figures, and so on-its production is largely a matter of hand labour after the coils have been wound and the electrodes stamped out by machinery.

The Wireless Valve.

Thanks to the popularity of "broadcasting," everybody today is familiar with the wireless valve. But how many of those who listen daily to the concerts, stories, and news disseminated by wireless telephony know that the valve which makes these wonders possible is a descendant of the electric lamp?

It was during the war that the wireless valve was first widely used. For a time, therefore, its achievements were more or less a secret. The world in general knew vaguely that wireless telephony had made vast strides, but it knew little of the marvellous lamp-like appliance which provided the most flexible and sensitive receiver, which could amplify a wireless whisper into a shout, and could act as a transmitter of wireless waves as well as a detector.


Whilst the general public at that time were still unfamiliar with the Wireless Valve, yet many thousands of men in the fighting services, to whom wireless meant so much during the War, soon became as familiar with "Osram" Valves as they were with Osram Lamps.

Directly the importance of the valve became apparent, the G.E.C. devoted no small proportion of the Osram factory to investigating how best it could be designed and produced in bulk. The highest success attended these efforts, and during the war the Osram factory was called upon to make huge numbers of wireless valves for the fighting services. In due course this work led to the establishment of a separate manufacturing organisation which is engaged in the production of wireless valves of all types, and for which a separate section of the Osram factory has been set aside.


A further development has since taken place. A full appreciation of the great work carried out by the Marconi Company has led to an amalgamation of interests of the valve business of the two companies and the present valve factory within the Osram Works is the Joint property of The General Electric Co. Ltd. and the Marconi Company. This organisation is now carried on under the name of The M.O. Valve Co. Ltd., and these valves are sold under the joint names of the Osram and Marconi Companies.

Welfare Work.

"Welfare Work" has quite a modern sound. The phrase was quite unfamiliar until during the war. Then the Government took special care and set experts at work to ensure the health and comfort of the hundreds of thousands of male and female workers recruited for the nation's industries.

At Brook Green, however, welfare work is really an ancient institution. From the earliest days of the Robertson Electric Lamp Works the well-being of all the employees has been an active concern of the management. Not only were the working conditions such as heating, lighting, and ventilation-the subject of constant thought and improvement, but care was extended to the hours of leisure. Good food being the foundation of good health, the Company instituted a dining-hall and canteen where dinners and teas of good quality are, provided at the minimum of cost. The dining hall is available in the evening for concerts, dances, and other entertainments, the organisation of which is in the hands of a committee of the workpeople themselves. Every encouragement is given to cricket, football, tennis, and other sports, and a large playing field is provided on a site convenient to the works.

Attached to the works is a Club House for the benefit of the staff. Facilities are provided not only for meals but for billiards and other forms of recreation. Here again the admirable principle of democratic management is carried out with great success, the directors contenting themselves with aiding and supplementing the initiative of the members of the staff.

Whilst perhaps not coming strictly under the heading of "Welfare Work" it is appropriate that mention should here be made of the Osram Works Fire Brigade. This was formed many years ago, and an exceedingly high standard of efficiency has been reached by careful training and practice. To-day the Osram Fire Brigade ranks amongst the finest private Great Britain a notable achievement amongst the host of others to their credit being the winning of The Corporation of London Shield for Private Fire Brigades.


Regarded from the outside, the Osram Lamp Works is a great machine. From the inside, however, it is more like a living thing, ever growing, ever changing, ever renewing its vigour. More than once, in the rapid progress of the lamp world from carbon filaments to squirted tungsten filaments, and then to drawn tungsten wire put in a vacuum and later in a gasfilled bulb, the factory has been metamorphosed.


Much of this restless energy of growth has come from the men engaged on the daily work of producing lamps. They have sought out new ways of doing things, devised and tested new machines, and in countless ways contributed to the progress of the electric lamp. But much also has been done by those who stood apart from the hurry and strain of manufacture, those who worked in laboratories and sowed a thousand seeds of research in the hope that one might take root and yield an abundant harvest.

Recognising the value of research, detached from but not divorced from the actual business of production, The General Electric Company, Limited, has erected large and fully equipped Research Laboratories at Wembley, Middlesex, and a substantial portion of these Laboratories is devoted specially to research in connection with electric lamps and wireless valves.


No one with a scientific turn of mind can visit these Research Laboratories without feeling that here is the ideal place to spend one's life in the pursuit of knowledge. The site lies in almost open country, and therefore enjoys the quietude so essential to scientific work; it is nevertheless close enough to London to feel the stimulus communicated by the ceaseless pulse of the greatest of cities. The building itself is an inspiration in its dignified simplicity of outline.

Part of the Laboratory equipment consists of small experimental factories for making lamps, tungsten wire and thermionic valves, etc. The personnel engaged on this work is not large, but sufficient to carry on their regular processes.

Raw material, or when convenient, partly manufactured parts, are drawn from the works and kept in store at the laboratories for the experimental factories to work upon. The finished product, if of the stock pattern, is returned to the works and added to their manufactured product for sale, but, of course its total is exceedingly small. An appreciable part of the output of the laboratory factories at any time may be non-standard as the result of the introduction of innovations, and such product is usually put to special tests.

At Wembley, in short, we have the replica of an electric lamp factory, with each department arranged like a laboratory or a workshop, so that new materials, new processes, new machines can be evolved and tested. A better electric lamp is the goal in view. Pure science, followed by experiment, is the method by which the goal will be approached.


Let us now thread our way through the apparent maze of rooms. Glass and tungsten being the two chief ingredients of an electric lamp or valve, we find first a foundry equipped with furnaces for research into the qualities of glass. Adjacent to the foundry is a section devoted to tungsten. It is equipped with all the necessary plant for refining tungsten ore, making the slugs, and drawing the wire. All the tungsten wire produced in this section is made into lamps, so that its performance can be checked with accuracy on a practical basis. Accompanying the ordinary tests, there is a close microscopic examination of the tungsten at the various stages from the slug to the wire, and from the wire to the filament, through its "life" in the lamp.

On the mechanical side there is a "Lamp Development Section," where every new idea in lamp-making machinery is tried out. In connection with this and other sections there are admirably equipped workshops "where any kind of machine likely to be required for lamp production can be built. Any special appliance needed in research or for experimental work can also be turned out. The advantage of these facilities will become clear when one contemplates the extraordinary variety of demands which the research workers are likely to make.

Elaborate arrangements are made for photometric tests and life tests of lamps. Here it may be mentioned that the staff of the Research Laboratories takes samples as it pleases from the lamps turned out at Hammersmith and subjects them to rigorous tests. Over 50 kilowatts are used continuously in this work.

As behoves an up-to-date research laboratory, Wembley possesses a very fine equipment for photometric work. Integrating photometers are used for testing the spherical candle-power of lamps, and in the experimental photometer room the photometer bench is capable of extension to seventy feet, so that the most powerful lamps can be accurately tested.

The lamp testing section just mentioned is a striking feature. On the racks where the life tests are carried out, it is possible to obtain every type and pressure of current likely ever to be wanted in connection with lamps. The changes are rung by plugging into certain rows of contacts which are arranged with a simplicity and orderliness which arouse the enthusiasm of the observer. Everything has been done so that the research worker will obtain what he wants at once and with accuracy.


This admirable provision pervades and characterises the whole establishment. Most of the sections we have described abut on the main corridor which traverses the building; and over this corridor is a gallery which contains the chief pipe system and electric mains for all the laboratories. The pipes are carried on a vertical rack down the centre of the gallery, and the electric cables are on a series of telegraph pole fittings at the side. Every here and there the pipes and cables are tapped to supply a laboratory.

In the Physics Laboratory, where elaborate researches are carried out, the convenience of this method of tapping trunk mains is admirably shown. The pipes from the trunk main are brought in at ceiling level and branch down to large rectangular wooden frames about eight feet from the ground. A tap is fitted at the end of each pipe, and the whole equipment enables the experimenter to obtain compressed air, coal gas, hydrogen, water, electricity and three degrees of vacuum merely by making a connection with the appropriate terminal on the frame.

As already hinted, the electric power supply is very admirably arranged. Current comes into the building at 3,000 volts from the mains of the North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company, and is transformed down to low voltage, at which it is distributed from a large switchboard for power and lighting purposes. Motor generators are installed to give direct current, and a booster is employed to charge the various batteries situated in large rooms off the gallery described above. Three sets of distribution boards in different parts of the building are provided with connections and inter-connections which enable the experimenter, no matter in which room he may be, to switch on the particular kind of current he needs, with the least possible delay.

It has long been a reproach against British manufacturers in general that they did not devote enough attention to research. This reproach was often made without-on the one hand-knowledge of how much research work these manufacturers did in a quiet way, and, on the other hand, a full realisation of the conditions which sometimes made impossible any scheme of research on a large scale. But however that may be, The General Electric Company, Limited, has given, in this Wembley enterprise, an overwhelming proof of its belief in the efficacy of research. These Research Laboratories represent absolutely the last word in scientific equipment; they are admirably designed and they supply the investigator with all his heart could desire under ideal conditions.

From the Company's point of view they afford an assurance that the Osram Lamp will keep in the van of progress and that the first glimmer of the dawn of new developments in electric lighting will not go unperceived. From the lamp user's point of view they are a guarantee that the progress marked by the Osram enterprise, from the Robertson Lamp days onward, will prove but the first stages of a rapid development.