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Photonics enterprises recognised by Queen's Award

This year's recipients of The Queen's Awards for Enterprise have been announced, with several awards going to companies in the UK's photonics industry. In the International Trade category, OpTek Systems (Abingdon, Oxfordhire), and Rofin-Sinar UK (Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire) received awards, with Zeeko (Coalville, Leicestershire) and Selex Galileo (Edinburgh, Scottland) receiving awards in the Innovation category.

OpTek Systems is a supplier of equipment for precision laser processing and micromachining, and The Queen's Award will give the company a second reason to celebrate the milestone of ten years of trading. The company achieved revenue growth in 2008 and 2009 based on an increased demand for machine tools used in the manufacturing and testing of photovoltaic cells in both US and Asian markets. In 2010 this growth was augmented by an uptake in the company’s LaserCleave range of products for processing optical fibres for communications applications. In combination with OpTek’s traditional micromachining operations, these markets have pushed exports to over 80 per cent of the company's turnover.

Founder and technical director Dr Mike Osborne commented: '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 from the UK to include manufacturing sites in USA and Asia. It is a great honour for our efforts to be recognised with this prestigious award, which has been achieved thanks to the hard work a dedication of all our staff and partners.'

Rofin-Sinar UK, a manufacturer of sealed gas lasers for cutting, drilling, welding and marking applications, recieved the award for international trade, primarily in recognition of its successful development of the SCx60 - an RF-excited, sealed CO2 laser. The laser’s innovative features include radio frequency amplifiers and a new mechanical structure, which combine to produce high performance from a relatively compact and light weight unit. The new laser is also equipped with a stable head, developed to maintain a constantly high quality laser beam, even during warm up.

Innovation award winner Zeeko is a privately-owned manufacturer of computer-controlled polishing machines for producing astronomical telescope mirror segments, compact camera lenses, medical implants, plastic injection moulds, semiconductor wafers, or any other product that requires an ultra-precise polished finish. The company's winning entry was its Optic Fabrication Centre, a corrective polishing machine with integrated measuring capability, which allows the user to process a precise component from start to finish without removing it from the machine for any reason. The innovation has led to a significant reduction in end-to-end optic fabrication time and associated reduction in manufacturing cost.

Selex Galileo, Radar & Advanced Targeting were given the award for innovation in the design and production of military lasers providing imaging, range finding and target designation capabilities.

The full list of this year's winners is available online.

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