Author Topic: The History of the Neodymium Lamp  (Read 415 times)
James
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The History of the Neodymium Lamp « on: December 28, 2021, 08:09:53 AM » Author: James
Since December 2021 marks the centenary of Airam of Finland, with whom I had always associated the neodymium lamp, I thought it would be appropriate to feature one of their old lamps on here and my website.  However the more I investigate this, the more I realise that I do not know enough about those lamps to write a fair account of when they were invented, or by whom.  So it seems appropriate to start a new thread here in the hope of filling in some of the gaps!

The earliest reference I have been able to find to the creation of the neodymium glass itself is an 1896 patent of Dr. Paul Drossbach in Germany – see DE 103,441

It was not until 1928 that the properties of this glass for improving colour contrast seem to have been recognised – that concept having been patented by the Auergesellschaft of Berlin, a subsidiary of the present day Osram company.  See DE 527,053.  They suggest the use of this glass as a filter for electric lamps or for use in spectacles, and Auer in fact went on to manufacture this material for use in early sunglasses under the Neophan brand – but appears not to have made a neodymium lamp.

The first detailed research into the colour properties for lighting seems to have taken place in 1937-38, and is summarised in an article by P.J. Bouma in the Philips Technical Review, in which he describes the colour rendering properties of incandescent lamps combined with Neophan glass.  Max has uploaded a copy of that article here on LG.

Despite these early discoveries by both Osram and Philips, it seems that neither of them commercialised neodymium lamps until the 1990s.  So the question remains as to who made the first lamp.  The closest the big companies made was the cobalt glass daylight blue lamp as invented by Matthew Luckiesh around 1914 and which is designed for the quite different application of simulating daylight, rather than enhancing colour contrasts.  Osram and Philips also made only that type until quite recently.

It seems that a Finnish company, Oy Airam, is widely accredited with having introduced the first Neodymium lamps in 1967 under their Neolux and Neodymlite brands.  In some of their older literature Airam claims to be the original producer.  However, on their centenary website page they no longer specifically state that they are the inventor, merely that their first neodymium lamp was introduced in 1967.  Also that the idea came from Olavi Erämetsä, a Professor at the Helsinki University of Technology who was inspired by the richness of colours while wearing a pair of neodymium-tinted glasses.  That story is difficult for me to believe in view of the Philips article of almost 30 years earlier, and because such glasses were already known to anyone working in lampmaking.  They are widely used to filter out the yellow-orange glare of gas flames used for working hot glass.

Now I see that an American company, Lumiram, does claim to be the original producer of neodymium lamps.  The founding date of their company of 1959 of course pre-dates Airam’s introduction of Neodymium lamps in 1967.  However, their website does not specifically state that they made Neodymium lamps right from the start in 1959.  It could be that their company was founded then, but Nd lamps were added later. 

GE seems to spend a lot of time claiming that they were the pioneers of this kind of lighting, and I do think that needs setting straight!  I was at their press release in New York in 1995 when they launched their Enrich-brand lamps using neodymium bulbs sourced from the small glassworks Cristalerias de Mataro in Spain (later re-launched under the Reveal brand in 2001 when they changed to the Neo+ glass from the Vermont glassworks in France), and they seem to ignore everything that happened before that.  Even that GE itself also briefly made Neodymium lamps in the 1970s for plant lighting, but then changed to a cheaper and somewhat less effective enamel glaze of neodymium and zinc oxides applied to ordinary clear glass.

It would be great if any members here might have more info about which company was the real pioneer of the neodymium incandescent lamps, and when that might have first taken place!
« Last Edit: December 28, 2021, 08:14:24 AM by James » Logged
Rommie
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Re: The History of the Neodymium Lamp « Reply #1 on: December 28, 2021, 08:31:19 AM » Author: Rommie
A fascinating post James, I'm afraid I know nothing, so hopefully others here will have some information that will be of use  :bulbman:
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Re: The History of the Neodymium Lamp « Reply #2 on: January 08, 2022, 12:08:05 PM » Author: Alex
Hello James,

sadly I have also no idea about the reason of the transition. I have however one question. What is the benefit of changing from a cobalt coloured glas envelope for daylight lamps to a neodymium coloured bulb? I see that most of the time, the cobalt based dye was used, even parallel to the production of Neodynium lamps. There is however one ting I noted. I only came across neodymium glass lamp in reflector form here in western europe, however I have never seen a reflector lamp using cobalt glas. apart of these two ways of creating a more daylight oriented lamp, I have come across two others. I have on Lamp made by Sylvania in Lyon in the 2000s from the growlux series, were the daylight Die was put on in a method wich I suspect is Colorglazing. Osram of Germany also had lamps in the Active (daylight) and Relax (Extra Warmwhite) from the 2000s using an internal, likely coating, likely silica based or something similar. Notably Osram in the sam time produced the Natura Grow light  lamp (Molsheim 2009)  employing an reflector neodymium glas bulb and scold TV Lamps in ball (Nove Samky 2006) or pigmy (Italy c.2005) shape from something wich looks to see like Cobalt glass. It would be interesting to know wich of the individual properties and especially the required manufacturing skills led to the description two use the three designs in different shapes simultaneously.

Best regards

Alex
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