This October just passed I decide to make the pilgrimage to the Broncolor Headquarters and Factory in Allschwil, Switzerland.
After having had the experience of using the lights for the past year and a half and receiving tons of support from their team I thought it best to delve more into the mysterious world of how lighting systems are made.
(Broncolor Para 177 being born)
I was given the grand tour starting with a walk around the Broncolor museum, two rooms housing a lineage of Broncolor lights starting from 1953.
(Previous generations of flash heads)
(Some of the very first generation Broncolor power lighting systems)
(1960-1984 Broncolor lighting systems)
The original Broncolor brothers distributed a brand called Rebikoff, which was eventually stopped and taken over by Broncolor in 1958.
(Original Rebikoff light sold by the Broncolor brothers in 1950-1958)
The main thing that struck me was the size of the very first lighting systems created by Broncolor, these large power hungry beasts produced huge amounts of light and consumed a lot of power .
(Power cable for one of the early lighting systems)
As the years went on they got more compact and efficient, until we get the sophisticated ultra fast, feature packed, Scoro system of today.
After being filled in about Broncolor heritage I was guided through the manufacturing process that happens on the Allschwil site.
It all starts with deliveries of various parts, capacitors, motherboards, cables and various types of metal housings stored and catalogued perfectly by huge archival machines.
(power cables & HMI poles for paras in quality inspection)
(Protective bulbs in quality inspection)
Initial quality checks take place on the deliveries of parts to just make sure they are up to the high Swiss standards before they are archived away or stored in box ready for the next step.
(Parts storage archive)
Operators input the parts they require and the machine spends a few seconds shuffling things around until the correct trays appear filled with hundreds of tiny electronic parts required to build the specific light or modifier they are looking to put together.
(The machine that perfectly archives & retrieves the thousands of parts that must be kept in order to make all the various products)
The parts are then taken up stairs and a team of experienced tinkerers that begin the delicate process of putting all the parts together.
(storage trays inside the Kardex machine)
Each Siros light is made to order and the assembly of the products is such that they can put together three Siros monoheads together in fifteen minutes.
(Siros lights being made, three heads at a time)
The Siros lights are stored on racks as they move between the different assembly points and finally into the packing room where they are put together with all the additional accessories that come with the Siros set when you order it.
(Siros S & Siros L lights ready to be packed)
The more complex Scoro packs take a bit longer to make, the smaller microchips and capacitors are placed on by a machine that stamps hundreds of tiny components onto the motherboards very quickly using lasers to guide accurate placement.
(The machine that makes the machines)
(strips of tiny components waiting to be stamped onto the motherboards)
Once the smaller components are attached, larger components are attached by hand and stored on racks ready for the last step of completing the motherboard, which involves heating the motherboard to set all the soldering.
Once the motherboards are completed they are cabled & placed within the housings.
(Cabling being put into circuit boards)
Before they are ready to go out to their lucky new owners, the products are lined up ready for Broncolors rigorous quality assurance tests, every light is fired at full power for a few hours and circuits are scanned to ensure a perfectly operating system before it is sent out.
(Scoro packs being quality tested)
Every individual unit goes through quality inspection before being packaged and distributed. Any faults that might be found are quickly repaired by the engineers by hand before then being tested again until faultless.
(behind the black curtains lights are fired at full power continuously for hours to test the systems)
(Siros head being tested, the snoot has lost its paint where the heat from continuous high powered flashes has burnt it away)
Once everything has been okayed, they make their way back down on to the ground floor near the loading bays where they are boxed up with all the accessories and put into the iconic light blue & white Broncolor packaging and weighed.
(boxes filled with Broncolor products, ready to be sent)
The freight awaits pick up, ready to be shipped to different countries around the world going to studios & distributors.
(Shipments ready for each country)
The overwhelming impression from my visit to the Swiss Broncolor headquarters, bordering with Germany and France, is that the lights that come out of this place every day come from a long and rich history of light makers, flying back from my one day adventure to Switzerland I felt enlightened and more knowledgable about photography, now having atleast a slight understanding of how lights are made, as it was a process which I did not give much thought to prior to receiving all the Broncolor equipment last year, but having used the lighting so much now, felt a fascination for their lighting systems.