From repaired light bulbs to brilliant LED lights

For the past century, Airam has defined the idea that we have in the Nordics about a good, durable and reliable source of light. In the 1920s, homes and offices were illuminated by light bulbs in warm tones. Today, it’s LED lights everywhere.

Lamps provide security and atmosphere, make colours appear brighter and generally make life more pleasant. During the past century, the Lightsource has experienced quite a transformation, but its purpose is still very much the same – to bring light and power into people’s lives. 

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What’s happened to the lamp in the past century?

The story of Airam and the Finnish electric lamp began with light bulb repair in 1921. Nimble fingers, sharp eyes and glass-blowing skills were required when replacing a bulb filament at the workshop in Helsinki, at Uudenmaankatu street. Bulbs that were given a new lease of life brought safe and easy-to-use electric light into homes, offices and factories. Because there was a great scarcity of materials at the time, you were allowed to buy a new bulb only if you brought in a broken one in exchange. 

In addition to learning how to fix bulbs, employees at Airam were learning about the vacuum technique used to fix them and about metal processing skills. The first Finnish light bulbs were made in 1925. In the early years, manufacture was pretty much manual work. 

Mass production of light bulbs began when Airam founded its own glass factory in 1933 in Punavuori, Helsinki. This is where they also started making the famous red thermos flask when they realised that the vacuum technique was ideal for keeping drinks either hot or cold. The tungsten used in the light bulb filaments was a suitable metal for winter tyre studs, the successful production of which was started in the late 1950s.

Airam’s new light bulb factory was opened in Puistola in 1979. This was the same year that marked the centennial of Edison’s light bulb invention. 

Luxury daylight

The light bulb was for a long time the only source of electric light available. Along the decades, new types of lamps were being developed, giving more light and burning for thousands of hours. Airam began to make fluorescent lamps at its factory in 1950. According to historical records, making the first test lamps was a genuine feat, as several metres of long glass tube was being drawn by hand around the elongated lamp. Airam created their own recipes for the luminescent materials in order to tailor the colour of the light. Airam probably was also the first to develop the world’s first deluxe fluorescent lamp with a colour tone that was close to that of daylight.

Fluorescent lamps created an instant difference because their light output was far better compared to light bulbs. Thanks to fluorescent lamps, the workplaces and factories received more light, speeding up work and making it safer.

Shapes and bright colours

The WIR lamp by artist Tapio Wirkkala in 1959 was an international design success. The streamlined light bulb with opal glass, combined with a black cord, was a beautiful, practical item for the home. One year later, we were treated to a crystal lamp inspired by melting ice and flowing water in northern nature. The WIR lamp continues to be popular but these days with integrated LED technology.

The almost 100-year-old light bulb received a sibling in 1967 with the birth of Airam’s Neolux lamp. Tinting the glass casing with neodymium oxide brightened up the home and made colours more vibrant. They also created a fresh feel in shops and restaurants. The invention for the glass casing was made by Olavi Erämetsä, a Professor at the Helsinki University of Technology, who, when going for lunch, accidentally put on glasses treated with neodymium oxide. Looking at the world through them, the tomatoes glowed red, the lettuce was bright green and the meat looked wonderfully delicious. This kicked off development that resulted in a 100% Finnish product. 

Airam has always been quick to meet customer needs. Back in the day, they provided the American market with light bulbs with a life of up to 16,000 hours. Although making them more durable reduced the light output, such special lamps were extremely useful in places where changing bulbs was particularly difficult. 


Sun in the morning, Airam in the evening

Airam has always been a forerunner as a source of light and expert in lamp technology. Over the years, we have made bent neon lights used for advertising, sodium lamps used for street lights, mercury vapour lamps used in parks and factories, and metal-halide lamps with excellent colour spectrum.  

The light production and manufacture of compact fluorescent lamps was similar to that of normal fluorescent lamps. Compact fluorescent lamps are also known as energy saving lamps, and, replacing old bulbs, cut households’ electricity bills considerably. 

But now it’s LED lights galore

LED lights stormed the markets in the early 2000s. Today, the LED light has pushed aside other lamp types because of its superior properties. Its light output and long life are unsurpassed. The sky’s the limit for the colour tones of LED lights – it can be white or shine in all colours of the rainbow. The popularity of LEDs also shows in the prices: early LED lights cost around 35 euros, while now they are less than 3 euros a piece. 

LED lights bring light into homes, schools, offices, factories, streets and shops – wherever there are people and life. Airam has one of the Nordic’s largest selections of LED lights for homes and electrical professionals. 

Selecting a suitable LED light is easy in the shop, as Airam’s packaging includes both the luminous flux in lumens and the equivalent wattage used in traditional light bulbs. Clearly and with pictures. Lamp shelves and signposting created together with shops also make it easier to find a suitable lamp. Multi-packs of lamps speed up the work of professionals when changing bulbs, and create less waste. Our packaging is now made of cardboard only, with no plastic used.

Products are developed together with customers to create even better light. One such example is the Frost lamp in which the LED lights just keep going even if the temperature goes down to minus 40 degrees Celsius. And for those who like bright light, we have created a LED light with 2,400 lumens, equivalent to what would be 150-watt light bulb.

LED lights are capable of many things. Plants thrive under a lamp that contains the right amount of blue and red. The Frost lamp doesn’t mind cold weather, while the sauna lamp manages fine in the opposite extreme. A LED light can today replace a fluorescent lamp, and filament lamps with a ball casing are beautiful interior decoration items. Decorative light bring a bit of bling-bling into your daily life, yard lights brighten up your yard, and LED light sets light up your Christmas tree. 

Airam has always been a partner that knows what people need in their lives, finding the optimal solution for any situation. A century of experience. Lighting the way forward. 

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