Zeeko polishes up its act and wins Queen’s Award

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Zeeko, a leading developer of machines for the polishing high precision freeform surfaces has won an Innovation Award in this year's Queen's Awards for Enterprise.

Managing director Richard Freeman, pictured, who cofounded the company in late 2000, said: "All members of the Zeeko team can feel justly proud to receive this coveted award. The criteria for entry are ever more challenging and the passion to win ever more fervent. "The product must not only represent a significant technological advance, but must also have achieved commercial success. Clearly in the view of the Queen's Awards judging panel, we scored well on both counts." Zeeko won the Award for its Optic Fabrication Centre, a corrective polisher with integrated measuring capability that allows the user to progress a precision component from start to finish without removing it from the machine for any reason. The innovation is said to bring a 'significant reduction' in end to end optic fabrication time, with a commensurate reduction in manufacturing cost. Two specific projects drove the development of the Optic Fabrication Centre. One was a need to polish X-ray telescope mandrels, a challenging application due to the low slope errors permitted (0.5 arc seconds) and the need for surface textures of 1 to 2Å. The other project was the production of optics suitable for segmented, extremely large terrestrial telescopes, where tight control of very large radii of curvature is needed. Researchers at the OpTIC Technium in North Wales are using an Optic Fabrication Centre to produce seven prototype hexagonal mirror segments under a €5million contract placed by the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere.