Fifty-one years ago, on 1 April 1969, the Experimental Light Source Factory of Tungsram was named Nagykanizsa Light Source Factory.
The name change demonstrated that five years of preparation had brought fruits in making Nagykanizsa a key site of lamp production for Tungsram. Installing Corning Ribbon glass bulb production lines in 1974 made Nagykanizsa a key supplier of glass bulbs in Europe. In 1992, the Nagykanizsa plant became a GE Center of Manufacturing Excellence for Compact Fluorescence Lamps (CFL), and was designated GE Lighting ‘s sole worldwide producer of this modern product. Today, the Tungsram Group’s Nagykanizsa plant produces a wide range of lighting products.
In 1963, the Economic Council of the Hungarian Government decided to transform Tungsram into a large socialist factory. Consequently, a couple of small factories were merged into Tungsram; in parallel, moving production from the overcrowded central factory in Újpest to the countryside made the enlargement of production capacity possible.
In 1964, Nagykanizsa in South West-Hungary was chosen as a location for the light source manufacturing plant because natural gas was available for glass production, as well as people with knowledge about glass production. Factory building, staff training, introduction of a new production technology, building the machinery took time, but production started as early as September 1965 with a limited range of products. On 1 April, 1969, the Experimental Light Source Factory of Tungsram was named Nagykanizsa Light Source Factory, demonstrating that production technology and capacity was fully prepared: In 1969, around 20 % of Tungsram lamps and fluorescent lamps were made in Nagykanizsa.
By 1974 the Nagykanizsa Light Source Factory was enlarged. Tungsram developed a lamp production machinery of higher performance (production capacity: 3500, then 4000 piece/hours); deployable for a larger number of types of lamps. A technological leap was realized by installing Ribbon glass bulb production machines from Corning Glass Works, New York. Selling such a high-end US-product to a company from a socialist country was justified by the level of technological expertise at Tungsram, making it fully capable of incorporating this technology. Production started in 1974 with an output of around 1.2 million/day, making import superfluous and inducing considerable glass bulb export, primarily to various European countries. The export of this first-class product opened up markets for other Tungsram products, whether parts or finished products. In 1985, the Nagykanizsa plant produced 330 million normal and decoration lamps, a large quantity of halogen lamps and 900 million glass bulbs; 75 % of sales were directed into capitalist countries.
CFL represented an important step in light source development in the late 1980s. Within GE, research and development on the CFL were carried out at Tungsram, several lamp-types were developed, and two high-performance assembly lines were designed and built. With considerable investment the Nagykanizsa plant became a GE Center of Manufacturing Excellence for Compact Fluorescence Lamps (CFL) in 1992. Today, the Tungsram Group’s Nagykanizsa plant produces a wide range of high-quality products from incandescent, halogen and fluorescent lamps to automotive, LED, and glass products.