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Zeeko Wins Two King’s Awards for Enterprise

by Anna

Zeeko, a leading polishing machine manufacturer based in Coalville, East Midlands, has achieved a remarkable feat by winning two prestigious King’s Awards for Enterprise this year. The company was recognized for excellence in international trade and innovation.

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Established in 2000, Zeeko has cemented its position as a global leader in the design and production of computer-controlled (7-axis CNC) optics polishing machines, particularly tailored for complex and ultra-high-precision freeform applications.

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The company initially focused on glass polishing for astronomy and space exploration, later expanding into optics production for defense, semiconductor, X-ray, and consumer products like camera lenses. Zeeko’s machines can process optical artifacts ranging from three meters to 1.5 millimeters in diameter, with over 50 worldwide patents safeguarding their intellectual property. Zeeko dedicates a minimum of 20% of annual sales revenue to research and development (R&D) efforts.

King’s Award for International Trade

The 2024 King’s Award for International Trade recognizes Zeeko’s significant growth in its original specialist activities, coupled with increased sales of new machine platforms and tools for mainstream industrial applications over the past three years. Notably, exports account for approximately 98% of Zeeko’s production, with key markets including Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, the USA, Canada, Mexico, and continental Europe. Despite challenging times during the pandemic, Zeeko’s order intake has surged to £10-12 million per year, compared to under £2 million previously.

King’s Award for Innovation

Zeeko’s second King’s Award for Enterprise in 2024 celebrates their groundbreaking innovation—Shape Adaptive Grinding (SAG). This innovative process, discovered serendipitously, revolutionizes the polishing and finishing of metal, ceramic, and carbide items like turbine blades, orthopedic implants, precision molds, and ball valve components.

SAG utilizes a cost-effective robotic machining platform alongside specialized tools and software, making it adaptable for deployment on any CNC machine. Zeeko Industrial, a new division based in Coalville, has been established to manufacture and market robotic polishing cells globally, supported by a dedicated manufacturing line for polishing tools, CAM software, and a remote calibration instrument.

The SAG technology is particularly effective for finishing hard materials such as silicon and CVD-coated silicon carbide, as well as stainless steel and additively manufactured components. It employs a ductile material removal process with a flexible, diamond-impregnated pad, a compliant grinding action, and abrasive-free coolant to achieve a polished surface.

Richard Freeman, Managing Director of Zeeko, expressed delight at receiving the two King’s Awards, attributing the success to the company’s highly skilled and innovative team. Freeman emphasized Zeeko’s commitment to continuous research and innovation, exemplified by their pioneering dwell time hybrid grinding and polishing technology.

The innovative SAG process emerged from a meticulous investigation by Zeeko’s research team in Japan, highlighting the company’s dedication to pushing boundaries and maintaining technological leadership in high-precision manufacturing.

Zeeko’s double King’s Awards for Enterprise underscore their exceptional contributions to international trade and innovation, solidifying their position as trailblazers in advanced manufacturing technologies.

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