Luxfer's History

Innovative Solutions in Material Technology

Innovative Solutions in Material Technology

Our History

Pouring of first magnesium at Clifton Junction, 1934

The Company in its current form was created in February 1996, when a management team purchased the downstream operations from British Alcan and formed a new company, initially called British Aluminium, later renamed Luxfer Group.

In October, 1997 in recognition of the fact that the nature of the business was international and covered a wide variety of metals and other materials, the name of the holding company was changed to LUXFER GROUP.

The Luxfer name is a famous one within the Group, dating back to 1897 when British inventor James Pennycuick, established the Luxfer Prism Company in Chicago to produce glass panels with integral prisms which could capture light from the daytime sky and refract it deep into interior spaces. Such panels would transmit twice the amount of light of an ordinary glass pane, providing safe, low-cost energy efficient illumination for businesses, schools, hospitals, residences and other users.

The name “Luxfer” was created by blending two Latin words, lux, meaning light and ferre, meaning to carry.

The company´s success was immediate, with more than 1,500 installations in 100 U.S. cities reported during the first year of operation. The prestigious Inland Architect magazine reported in 1897: “To characterize this new prism as one of the most remarkable improvements of the century in its bearing on practical architecture, is to speak but mildly. In the opinion of some of the foremost architects of this country, the Luxfer prism is destined to work an entire revolution in planning and necessitate very extensive changes in construction.”

In the 1950s Luxfer developed a new process called cold-indirect extrusion, an engineering milestone that changed the course of the company and in 1958 Using its proprietary technology, Luxfer introduced the world´s first cold-extruded, seamless, high-pressure aluminum cylinders. The company´s first cylinder manufacturing plant opened in Nottingham, England.

In 1965 Luxfer sold its remaining non-cylinder product lines to concentrate on its rapidly expanding cylinder business and changed its name to Luxfer Gas Cylinders.

In 1972 Luxfer opened its first aluminum cylinder manufacturing plant in the USA in Riverside, California. In collaboration with Jacques-Yves Cousteau, inventor of the original Aqua-Lung® diving equipment, pioneering undersea explorer and chairman of U.S. Divers, Luxfer produced the world´s first aluminum scuba tank.

In 1997, One hundred years after its inception, the “LUXFER” name is adopted as the name for the global materials technology group formed from the downstream businesses of British Alcan Aluminium of which Luxfer Gas Cylinders was one.

In 1920 Major Charles Ball MC, DSO, working for F. A. Hughes, recognized the emerging potential of a new metal, magnesium, and entered into a contract with the German company, I. G. Farben, part of Griesham Elektron, who had pioneered the electrolytic process that allowed magnesium to be produced in commercial volumes, to become the sole importer into the UK. F. A. Hughes rapidly built up a demand of 1,500 tonnes in the UK, which included castings for aircraft, commercial vehicles and buses.

In 1934 Major Ball secured the patent rights and know-how for I. G. Farben’s manufacturing process which was far superior to any other at that time, in exchange for a 30% share in a new company, British Magnesium (Elektonmetall) Co. Ltd. Other co-owners of the new company were ICI (48%) and F. A. Hughes (22%).

In 1935 the name of the company was changed to Magnesium Elektron and the new magnesium production plant was established at Clifton Junction in North Manchester with an initial capacity of 1,500 tonnes per annum.

In 1947 production of primary magnesium, which is a very energy-intensive process, ceased at Clifton Junction and the company instead concentrated on the production of specialist magnesium alloys. Even during the war the company had maintained a significant level of research work. It was this faith in the ability of MEL's scientific strengths which led to important advances in alloy technology after the market collapsed. Of particular importance to the research team was the work in perfecting the alloying of magnesium with zirconium. This development came at the perfect time for the company as its improved properties at high temperatures were ideal for the blossoming jet aircraft industry.

In 1955 The British Aluminium Company acquired a majority share in the company. By this time Magnesium Elektron’s role in the magnesium industry was accepted as being that of a high-technology specialist backed by a potent reserve of research and development and a world-wide market.

The Emergence of the Zirconium Business
The company made its first sale of zirconium oxide in 1950. It had developed the production expertise in order to produce zirconium based alloys of magnesium for the aerospace market. Sales of zirconium carbonate followed in 1956 and then throughout the 1960s a whole range of tailored zirconium products were developed for a wide-range of applications, establishing the zirconium operation as a thriving business in its own right. This was formally recognized in 1982 when the business was spun off as a business in its own right – MEL Chemicals.

From its two main predecessors, Alcan and The British Aluminium Company, Luxfer inherited a rich legacy of expertise in the metallurgy of light metals and the manufacturing processes to produce specialist materials. The core companies in the Group, Magnesium Elektron, MEL Chemicals, Luxfer Gas Cylinders have pioneered the use of aluminium, magnesium, zirconium and carbon for over 100 years and have an unrivalled understanding of the application of these materials.

Over the last decade the Group has shown a major commitment to new product and manufacturing innovation, improving manufacturing efficiency and working closely with customers to develop new solutions to their product needs, particularly in the environmental, healthcare and protection market sectors.


LUXFER GROUP - a global materials technology company.