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Incandescent Lamps

carbon, material, filament, lamp, filaments, temperature, time and substance

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INCANDESCENT LAMPS The incandescent lamp is by far the most common type of lamp used, and the principle of its operation is as follows: If a current I is sent through a conductor whose resistance is R, for a time t, the conductor is heated, and the heat generated = PR t, PR t representing joules or watt-seconds.

If the current, material, and conditions are so chosen that the substance may be heated in this way until it gives out light, becomes incandescent, and does not deteriorate too rapidly, we have an in candescent lamp. Carbon was the first successful material to be chosen for this conductor and for ordinary lamps it is formed into a small thread or filament. Very recently metallic filament lamps have been introduced commercially with great success but the carbon incandescent lamp will continue to be used for some time, especially in the low candle-power units operated at •commercial voltages. Car bon is a successful material for two reasons: 1. The material must be capable of standing a very high tem perature, 1,280° to 1,330° C., or even higher.

2. It must be a conductor of electricity with a fairly high re sistance.

Platinum was used in an early stage of the development, but, as we shall see, its temperature cannot be maintained at a value high enough to make the lamp as efficient as when carbon. or a metal having a melting point higher than that of platinum, is used. Nearly all attempts to substitute another substance in place of carbon have failed until recently, and the few lamps which are entirely or partiaily successful will be treated later. The nature of the carbon employed in incandescent lamps has, however, been much improved over the first forms, and owing to the still very great importance of this lamp, the method of manufacture will be considered.

Manufacture of Carbon Incandescent Lamps.

Preparation of the Filament. Cellulose, a chemical compound rich in carbon, is prepared by treating absorbent cotton with zinc chloride in proper proportions to form a uniform, gelatine-like mass. It is customary to stir this under a partial vacuum in order to remove bubbles of air which might be contained in it and destroy its uniformity. This material is then forced, "squirted," through steel dies into alcohol, the alcohol serving to harden the soft, transparent threads. These threads are then thoroughly washed to remove all trace of the zinc chloride, dried, cut to the desired lengths, wound on forms, and carbonized by heating to a high temperature away from air. During carbonization,

the cellulose is transformed into pure carbon, the volatile matter being driven off by the high temperature to which the filaments are subjected. The material becomes hard and stiff, assuming a permanent form, shrinking in both length and diameter—the form being specially con structed so as to allow for this shrinkage. The forms are made of carbon blocks which are placed in plumbago crucibles and packed with powdered carbon. The crucibles, which are covered with loosely fitting carbon covers, are gradually brought to a white heat, at which temperature the cellulose is changed to carbon, and then allowed to cool. After cooling, the filaments are removed, measured, and inspected, and the few defective ones discarded.

In the early days, these filaments were made of cardboard or bamboo, and later, of thread treated with sulphuric acid.

A few of the shapes of filaments now in use are shown in Fig. 1, the different shapes giving a slightly different distribution of light. As here shown they are designated as follows: A, U-shaped; B, single-curl; C, single-curl anchored; D, double-loop; E, double curl; F, double-curl anchored.

Mounting the Filament. After carbonization, the filaments are mounted or joined to wires leading into the globe or bulb. These wires are made of. platinum—platinum being the only substance, so far as known, that expands and contracts the same as glass, with change in temperature and which, at the same time, will not be melted by the heat developed in the carbon. Since the bulb must remain air-tight, a substance expanding at a different rate from the glass cannot be used. Several methods of fastening the filament to the leading in wires have been used, such as forming a socket in the end of the wire, inserting the filament, and then squeezing the socket tightly against the carbon; and the use of tiny bolts when cardboard filaments• were used; but the pasted joint is now used almost exclu sively. Finely powdered carbon is mixed with some adhesive com pound, such as molasses, and this mixture is used as a paste for fasten ing the carbon to the platinum. Later, when current is sent through the joint, the volatile matter is driven off and only the carbon remains. This makes a cheap and, at the same time, a very efficient joint.

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