Our UK Associate Companies Axicon & RF Tags Ltd


Axicon Auto ID Ltd (www.axicon.com) is a UK based company that has been in continuous operation for approximately 25 years and now has representatives all over Europe and in China, Japan, Russia and the USA. Regional offices have been established in Paris and the USA. The company has been an important contributor to the development of Barcoding and has made many significant developments. Axicon developed its own micro-plotter capable of a resolution of 2 micron for the production of high quality film masters in the mid 1980’s. Later developments have been a range of Bar Code Verifier products for Quality Control and Quality Assurance in the bar coding industry. More recently, the company has developed Digital Mastering software for the direct production of Bar-Code printing masters from computer files.

Because the bar code industry is to a very large extent a mature industry, Axicon Auto ID Ltd developed a keen interest in the growth potential of RFID and took the view that RFID would be an essential component of the future of AutoID (Automatic Identification). The Axicon group recognised the value of the work that had been carried out on RFID in South Africa. Through visits to the CSIR in Pretoria and their IP licensing company in London contact was established with a South African company called BiStar that had developed significant RFID technology and was producing own branded readers and tags. This lead to a joint venture to market BiStar’s products in Europe and to develop ancillary products for BiStar.

Axicon retains its leadership in barcoding with particular emphasis on the quality control aspects.


Axicon was founded some 25 years ago by Jenny and Peter Hicks, under the name of ‘Symbol Services’, specifically to distribute barcode originals, Film Masters, for the production of barcodes in a printing process.

Within two years of successful growth, it was recognized as necessary to find an alternative source of Film Masters, rather than continue to import them from the USA, and for this to be possible, the company would have to own a dedicated film master generator.

In order to do this Peter Hicks, together with his son Michael, developed a generator that was accurate to within 2 microns and had a full range of software to enable production of all barcode symbologies – the Microplotter.

“Microplotter Engineering” was formed to handle the production and marketing of the generator, which was brought into use in the early 1980’s in the United Kingdom and subsequently franchised and sold to over 30 countries throughout the world.

It was also recognized that it was necessary to produce a film master verifier accurate to these tolerances to ensure that the film masters produced were correct. Microplotter Engineering therefore designed and constructed its own film master verifier.

With the experience gained from developing a film master verifier, a printed symbol verifier was the next project. The device, the Analyzer, was first marketed in 1988 and many thousands of these have been sold throughout the world in various forms. The unit is still one of the most cost effective and accurate units on the market.

Again, during this period, it was recognized that this experience could be utilized to design and build barcode decoders and wand readers. The resulting products, the Catalyzer Decoder and Tornado Wand Reader, both received UK Government ‘SMART’ awards for design and technology.

In the early 1990’s the companies ‘Symbol Services’, ‘Symbol Label Service’ and ‘Microplotter Engineering’ were grouped together under the new trading name of Axicon Auto ID Ltd.

At this time the development of a new verifier range, which would meet the new standards of verification laid down recently by ANSI in the USA and by CEN in the European Union, began:

  • 1995 PC-5000 range released, which combines wand based verifier hardware with Windows based PC software,
  • 1997 PC-6000 range released, which combines CCD based verifier hardware with Windows based PC software,
  • 1999 Model 8000 verifier range released, a portable unit which can either be used as a stand-alone unit or in combination with the PC-5000 and PC-6000 ranges.

Other important developments in the Company’s business have been:

  • 1992 Developed the DiskMaster system to produce film master quality barcodes as EPS files,
  • 1992 Acquired ‘WACE Barcoding’,
  • 1993 Acquired the film master generator business of ‘RJS’.
  • 1993 Acquired Dutch subsidiary, ‘Scanology’,
  • 1996 Acquired a label converting company to expand the barcode label bureau,
  • 1997 Acquired ‘Peak Technology’ film master business,
  • 1999 Acquired ‘Barcodes of Portslade’ business.