Location: 170 Lake Street
The Inter Ocean, April 4, 1897
Truly there is something new under the sun.
Great and useful inventions and improvements in methods are constantly being discovered, and the man who attempts to keep track of the rapid progress that being made in all departments of the world of science is not allowed time in which to recover from his surprise at one splendid scientific achievement before he is plunged into renewed wonderment at the contemplation of another area more splendid.
The old flat, “Let there be light,” had recently been reiterated in a way that will affect in an important manner a large portion of the population of our large cities.
In all city buildings it is found necessary to resort to artificial light during the hours of daylight in a greater or less degree.
An invention has recently been placed upon the market in Chicago which will largely affect with this necessity.
This invention is what is known as the Luxfer prism, and there is scarcely room for doubt that it will revolutionize the lighting of city buildings by doing away in a large measure with the use of gas and electric light during the daytime.
The importance of this result from the standpoint of economy alone can in some degree be shown by stating the fact that one Chicago dry goods firm pays the sum of $25.000 per year for the artificial light required to light its store during the daytime, whereas it is claimed by the people who own this invention that by its use the firm in question could save at least $15,000 per annum.
If such a result can be attained in a single instance, it Is evident that the total saving that would result from the general use of this invention would be something enormous.
And it is claimed that la an ordinary store where the cost of the artificial light used during the daytime amounts to from $10 to $50 per month, the Luxfer prism can be put in at such a slight expense that the coat will be returned by the saving made during the next year.
The prisms do not create light, but if placed where reached by a fair volume of light from the sky they will transfer the light to too spot where it is needed, even a distance of 200 feet.
The principle underlying the invention is most simple, being nothing more nor less than the refraction of light.
When a ray of light passes from one transparent medium, such as glass or water, to another, it undergoes a change of direction at the surface of separation.
The knowledge of this property of light has been utilized in the Luxfer method of lighting buildings. The natural light of a room comes directly from the sky, and striking the floor within ten or twenty feet of the window is almost entirely lost. The quantity of light utilized is very small in contrast with that which enters the window.
In the new system the light is received upon a plate of prisms and under the laws of refraction is diverted and borne back into the room.
Upon the angles of the prisms depend the angles of the refraction of light, and hence lighting of that portion of the interior required.
No light is lost; no light is created; but through the Luxfer prisms daylight is diffused uniformly throughout the interior space.
Luxter prisms are a scientific product of plates of glass with semi-prisms comprising one face. The plates are electrically glazed together Into whatever form and size may be required, and are them surrounded with a suitable metal frame. The completed frame of prism plates may be either hung in the window frame or Inserted in the sash in place of the sheet of plate-glass.
Through the magio power of electricity edges of the prism plates are so welded together by a marrow line of copper that the finished product is not only attractive in appearance, but has also the desired stir. ness for use in even very large frames.
This valuable invention has only recently been placed upon the market by the Luxter Prism Company, composed of Chicago men, who control the patents covering it. The first patent was taken out several years ago by the inventor, a Canadian, but the present owners have made many improvements upon the original idea. The offices of the company are located in the Rookery building, but the place where the most graphic idea may be formed of the practical value of the prisms is at their exhibit-rooms, at No. 170 Lake street.
There a partition has been built lengthwise through the center of a long storeroom, and one of the long narrow rooms thus formed has the ordinary plate glass in its front window, while the other has the upper half of the front window covered by the prisms.
The contrast of light is most striking, for while in the room lighted in the ordinary manner the light, at a distance of sixty-five feet from the window, is too scant for the transaction of ordinary business, in the other room the prisms in the window sash throw the light back with such power as to make it possible to read newspaper readily at that distance from the front. No one who visits this showroom can help being impressed with the great practical value of the discovery.
The lighting of a basement by means of the sidewalk prisms is also well shown there.
The general use of this invention will be a great publie benefit in very many ways. It is well known that daylight, is more healthful than artificial light, with its obnoxious vapors. Then, too, eyes will be relieved of the unnatural strain imposed by the necessity of working under artificial light—deliverance of no small importance, as thousands with falling eyesight will testify.
Schools, churches, offices, and stores can all be better lighted, and shoppers will be enabled to form a correct idea as to the colors of fabrics.
Besides all this much space in buildings that is now useless can be made valuable, for, by the use of this device, the basements can readily be made as light as the first floors now are.
By the use of this means of lighting, also, the serious problem of utilizing out-of-date buildings may be solved, for, with their high ceilings, they can, if well lighted, be made as desirable as those of more modern construction.
For the reasons stated above architects and owners of buildings are now devoting special attention to this simple but inestimably valuable device.
The company also has exhibits on view in New York and Toronto, where they are also attracting real attention.
Pocket Hand-Book of Electro-Glazed Luxfer Prisms, The Luxfer Prism Companies, 1898
LUXFER PRISM INSTALLATIONS EXPLAINED.
In installing Luxfer Prisms, they have been considered as a new light transmitting medium, and have been applied to the better class of existing buildings in fixtures peculiar to them selves and appropriate to the buildings. Each case requires some special treatment at the hands of the architect of the building.
Lucidux. It has been found impossible to light basements in a satisfactory manner by any device placed in the pavement alone. Successful lighting has been accomplished by combining with the Luxfer Prism pavement lights a vertical prism plate technically called the Lucidux, hung as an apron between the basement and the vault under the sidewalk. This lucidux receives the light from the pavement prisms and projects it into the basement.
Pavements. Pavement lights vary greatly among them selves with reference to the volume of light which they are able to transmit. When compared with the results of the common pavement prisms the volume of light transmitted to the lucidux by Luxfer Pavement Prisms is enormously increased by reason of their carefully calculated surfaces and by means of the prisms on the ends of the pendant.
Window Plates are such prism plates as are substituted in the window sash for the glass ordinarily used. Such prism plates may be used for the entire window or for a single sash or a portion of the sash, or for a transom in store fronts.
A Forilux is a prism plate of any given size appropriately mounted in an independent frame. This is affixed to the building where required in a vertical position in or opposite the window opening.
A Forilux usually clears the reveal and is attached to the walls about the opening in a simple manner, flush with the wall faces. The walls are not mutilated beyond the drilling of a few small holes in the jambs or soffit of the opening, the idea being to preserve the individuality of the fixture as some thing desirable in itself, and at the same time respect the original design of the building.
In the Window Plate and Forilux the character of the installation does not end with the mounting of the prisms ; but the prism lenses themselves are manufactured in great variety of shapes and with widely differing surface patterns and effects. Innumerable combinations of these single lenses in surface patterns, bands and lines may be made.
In nearly all of the prescriptions of Luxfer Prisms which are found in the table headed Luxfer Prism Prescriptions, more than one kind of prisms are used. Those which are indicated by the heavy type form the body of the plate and throw the light into the main part of the room. We call these the major prisms. The other one or two prisms desig nated by a lighter type, are designed to throw the light in the front part of the room. We call these the minor prisms. It is evident, therefore, that from any one particular point in the room the prism plate will be shaded in some parts, because some prisms throw the brightest light in one direction and others the brightest light in other directions. This gives an opportunity to the architect to place a design in his window, and this design is seen very clearly both from the inside and from the outside. In the back part of the room in general, the major prisms of a plate, indicated by heavy type, are very bright, while the prisms indicated by the lighter type are darker. In the front part of the room the reverse takes place, the minor prisms being very light and the major prisms darker. On the outside of the window the minor prisms are usually several shades brighter than the major prisms. A few of the designs which have been used with satisfaction in Luxfer Prism plates are shown by the illustrations.
A Canopy differs from a Forilux in that the plate of prisms is fastened at its upper edge to the wall over the opening, the lower edge lifted until the proper angle for best receiving the light is secured, and it is then fastened in this position by chains or brackets as the conditions may require.
The prism lenses used in a canopy are of a heavier nature than those used in a forilux, and the construction of the frames and supports much heavier and more complicated, as they are oftentimes so constructed that they may be closed or lifted entirely.
Canopies are used where their opening to be lighted is opposite and far below the sky-lines of immediate surrounding buildings, as it is then necessary that the receiving surface of the prism plate be upturned to the light of the sky.
The use of the canopy has an incidental practical value in protecting show windows and dispensing with awnings, and they may be made attractive and useful features over entrances to public buildings or private dwellings. Continuous canopies are sometimes made protecting the sidewalk and throwing an immense volume of light into the first story of an entire build ing.
The prisms in a canopy are oftentimes arranged in groups ; the side groups, which may be outside the line of the opening, are put in so that the lines of the prisms are diagonal, throw ing the light to one side of the room. In some instances in this way alone can some of the best results be obtained, as a larger volume of light than would otherwise be permitted by the size of the opening can be utilized. In some cases it is desirable to provide the canopy with a vertical or sloping side portion, the whole assuming the form of a hood over the opening.
In connection with window plates, foriluxes and canopies, very beautiful effects are secured by the use of the Iridian product. The receiving surface thus shows a rich, substan tial texture, sparkling both inside and outside with an irradia tion of crystal lines and forms. New effects and possibilities are steadily developing in the artistic treatment of this material.
Chicago Tribune, January 1, 1899
This mercantile palace will be equipped with sixteen Otis Co.’s passenger elevators, the cars to be of mahogany, inlaid, with Pullman car finish. Every appliance known to science to include safety, speed, and comfort will be utilized in their construction.
The Luxfer prisms are to be used for the entire building, including the sidewalk. The lower two stories of the modern dry goods mart will consist of two-story bay window show rooms, the upper portion of the windows being installed with Luxfer polished cut prisms, framed in statuary bronze work of unique and beautiful design. The masonry above will be treated with a smooth surface, combined with simplicity of line and moulding. On the Madison street front will be a spacious porte-cochere and carriage court, so arranged that patrons may drive directly to special elevators. All parts of the interior will be finished in bronze and San Domingo mahogany. This building will be thoroughly fireproof.
It will be the effort of Schlesinger & Mayer and Architect Sullivan and Engineer Adler to make the building the most complete of its class in the world.
Inter Ocean, March 3, 1899
The heat-resisting properties of the McClurg building, at the corner of Wabash avenue and Madison street. A number of the Luxfer prism windows remain intact, while every vestige of the ordinary windows and frames about; them were destroyed. It was noticed at the time of the fire that the prism half-windows on the east side of the building withstood all the fierce heat and still remain there. The exhibit seems to demonstrate in very large part the claims made by the company relative to the fireproof character of its prisms.
Chicago Tribune, June 12 & July 11, 1928
Luxfer Gas Cylinders, 2020
“It all started with a light…”
This year, Luxfer welcomes its 125th anniversary with a celebration of innovation spanning back to 1885. The story began on February 17, 1885, in Boston, Massachusetts, when British-born inventor and entrepreneur James G. Pennycuick received a USA patent (No. 312,290) for prismatic glass tiles. In his patent application, Pennycuick described his product as “an improvement in window-glass.” His invention included molding a series of triangular ridges to one side of a four-inch-square glass tile, thus creating prisms that would refract sunlight into dark spaces. He named his light-bearing invention “Luxfer”—from the Latin term “lux” which means light, and from “ferre” which means to carry or bear.
Between 1885 and 1897, Pennycuick was granted several patents and after operating under a few different business names, Pennycuick founded the Luxfer Prism Company in April 1897 in Chicago, Illinois.
Fast forward to 1920, Charles Ball MC, DSO recognized the emerging potential of a new metal, magnesium, while working for British manufacturer F. A. Hughes. He contracted with the German company, I. G. Farben (part of Griesham Elektron®), which pioneered the electrolytic process that allowed magnesium to be produced in commercial volumes, to become the sole importer of magnesium in the UK.
In 1935, the company’s name was changed to Magnesium Elektron Limited, and a new magnesium production plant was established at Clifton Junction in North Manchester, England with an initial capacity of 1,500 tonnes per annum.
Luxfer Graphic Arts originally formed part of Magnesium Elektron Limited. In 1936, at the Clifton Junction facility in Manchester, England, Luxfer Graphic Arts began manufacturing and supplying lightweight magnesium sheet and plate, as well as other magnesium products for use in the Graphic Arts industry.
Five years later in 1941, Luxfer Gas Cylinders was founded, having produced the world’s first hot-extruded seamless aluminum cylinder. To supply mortar shell casings and rocket bodies for bazookas during the Korean War (1950-1953), Luxfer Gas Cylinders introduced a new process named cold-indirect extrusion, an engineering milestone that would soon change the course of the company’s history.
During World War II, Magnesium Elektron Limited (MEL) maintained a significant level of research work, leading to important advances in alloy technology, including the alloying of magnesium with zirconium. This development came at an ideal time, as the improved properties of magnesium and zirconium alloys at high temperatures were ideal for the growing aircraft industry.
Expanding on their decade-long experience hoop-wrapping cylinders with fiberglass for higher pressure applications, Luxfer introduces high-pressure, even lighter-weight composite cylinders fully wrapped with fiberglass (and later Kevlar®). These products prove to be particularly well suited for firefighter SCBA kits, as well as for first responder life-support applications, including oxygen containment.