Almost simultaneously with setting up a production of LEGO® molds in Switzerland in 1974, a molding facility is set up making Switzerland the first country outside Denmark to host a LEGO run factory producing LEGO elements. The following is a walkthrough of the different sites in Switzerland hosting LEGO production over the years.
In 1974, the LEGO Group establishes a factory in Baar, Switzerland, which both builds molding tools (molds) and handles Technical Research and Development (R&D). Later in 1974, the mold production factory is expanded to include a molding shop, the first LEGO run molding facility outside Denmark. The molding factory is based on a brand-new molding concept: The Hot Runner mold. These molds – which LEGO owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen helps develop – have a direct channel or “runner” supplying molten plastic to each cavity and thus vastly reducing material waste.
Production in the new factory in Baar centres on standard bricks in the five basic LEGO® colors: white, red, black, yellow and blue. The plant later produces LEGO DUPLO® elements.
Within a few years the Baar factory is expanded to include another mold production hall and two more molding halls and later a packing facility follows suit.
The molding plant adopts fully automatic operation in 1978 – with a sophisticated supply system, via a 10‑km pipeline, feeding plastic granulate to the many molding machines.
In 2004 the LEGO Group decides to close its factory in Baar, instead concentrating activities on its other Swiss facilities. The 210 molding machines in Baar are transferred to factories in Willisau, Switzerland and Billund, Denmark.
In 1981 the LEGO Group set up a new factory in Neuhof, an area of Baar. The Neuhof plant will primarily produce LEGO DUPLO elements, while the Baar factory will continue to manufacture LEGO System parts. The factory opens officially in 1985, and in 1987 expands with a central and finished‑product warehouse. The Neuhof factory shuts down in June 2001.
In May 1991 the LEGO Group signs an agreement to set up yet another Swiss LEGO factory. It will be located in Willisau, about 40 km west of Baar. The plant will have six modules totaling 65,000 m², which will produce LEGO DUPLO elements.
Construction starts in June 1991, and the first module is ready for production in 1992. The factory is officially opened on March 18, 1993 – described in Switzerland as “Workplace of the New Millennium”.
Construction of the Willisau factory pioneers several environmental principles. For example, the LEGO Group invests approx. DKK 42m in energy conservation, collection of rainwater for machine cooling, and a special roof design, which can cool production and warehouse areas.
The Willisau factory closes in 2006, and production outsourced to a new business partner, Flextronics, at their production facility in Kladno, Czech Republic.