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  • Photonics Companies Win Queen’s Awards
May 2011
LONDON, May 3, 2011 — Four photonics companies have received Queen’s Awards for Enterprise — the UK’s most prestigious accolades for business success.

Specialised Imaging Ltd. of Tring, a supplier of ultrahigh-speed imaging systems and components for industrial, defense and scientific applications, won for its innovation in the continuous development of a range of ultrahigh-speed imaging systems used in military and scientific applications. In addition, it was honored for its sustained growth in export sales for its products.

The systems record and measure parameters associated with high-speed events. The range includes a camera that captures 32 high-resolution frames at 1 billion fps, used in materials, medical and biological research, and another that takes 11 million pixel images at an exposure time of 10 ns and that is used in ballistic impact analysis.

Global engineering technologies company Renishaw plc of Wotton-under-Edge received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its TRS2 laser-based noncontact broken tool detection system. The system is used to detect broken or missing cutting tools on computer numerically controlled machining centers, as well as within machining operations in the automotive and consumer electronics industries.

Renishaw’s TRS2 broken tool detection system, winner of a 2011 Queen’s Award for Enterprise, is used as part of machining operations in the automotive and consumer electronics sectors. (Image: Renishaw plc)

In contrast with previous systems, the TRS2 is positioned only on one side of a cutting tool to analyze reflected light patterns to determine tool condition. It can assess the conditions of a variety of tools, with diameters as small as 0.2 mm, at a range of distances.

OpTek Systems of Abingdon won the award for International Trade. The laser processing solution provider is celebrating its third consecutive record year for revenues. Its revenue growth is based on the increased demand for machine tools used in the manufacturing and testing of photovoltaic cells.

“I am very proud that, since its formation in 2000, OpTek has now reported 10 consecutive years of profitable operation, and has expanded its facilities in the UK to include manufacturing sites in USA and Asia,” said Dr. Mike Osborne, founder and technical director of OpTek. “It is a great honor for our efforts to be recognized with this prestigious award.”

Zeeko Ltd., a privately owned manufacturer of machines for the polishing of high-precision, free-form surfaces, received the award in the innovation category for its Optic Fabrication Centre, a corrective polisher with integrated measuring capability. For the first time, the Calville company’s polisher allows users to progress a precision component from start to finish without removing it from the machine for any reason. The innovation significantly reduces end-to-end optic fabrication time with a commensurate reduction in manufacturing cost.

Richard Freeman, co-founder of Zeeko, pictured with the Optic Fabrication Centre that was the basis for the company winning the Queen’s Award for Innovation 2011. (Image: Zeeko Ltd.)

The fabrication center was developed from two specific projects. One was a need to polish x-ray telescope mandrels, which at the time were one of the most challenging polishing applications that the company could identify. The other project was the production of optics suitable for segmented, extremely large terrestrial telescopes that required tight control of very large radii of curvature.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are made each year by the queen, on the advice of the prime minister, who is assisted by an advisory committee that includes representatives of government, industry and commerce, and the trade unions. The awards are given solely on merit. The number of awards presented each year is not preset and depends on the quality of the applications received.

The companies will receive the awards from the queen in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in July.

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The optical process, following grinding, that puts a highly finished, smooth and apparently amorphous surface on a lens or a mirror.
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