Cognex Corporation is an American manufacturer of machine vision systems, software and sensors used in automated manufacturing to inspect and identify parts, detect defects, verify product assembly, and guide assembly robots. Cognex is headquartered in Natick, Massachusetts, USA. It has offices in more than 20 countries.
Cognex was one of the first companies to explore commercial applications for machine vision in the early 1980s. In the 1990s, Cognex’s business grew due to the demand for machine vision tools to help automate semiconductor and electronics manufacturing. While semiconductor manufacturing remains an important market for Cognex vision, today the company receives a greater portion of its revenue from general manufacturing applications in areas such as pharmaceutical, automotive, healthcare, packaging, aerospace and consumer products manufacturing.
The company’s product portfolio includes In-Sight, a vision system that combines a camera, software and processor into one compact unit; VisionPro vision software; Checker, a single-purpose vision sensor used to provide high performance at certain common vision tasks, such as checking for the presence or absence of parts and features; DataMan, a family of fixed mount and handheld ID readers used to identify and track items by reading 1D and 2D Data Matrix codes.
The company's first vision system, DataMan, was introduced in 1982. DataMan was an optical character recognition (OCR) system designed to read, verify, and assure the quality of letters, numbers, and symbols printed on products and components. The company's first customer was a typewriter manufacturer that purchased DataMan to read letters on typewriter keys and ensure that they were located in the correct position.
In 1989, Cognex went public on the NASDAQ exchange for $1.38 per share—within a year, the stock price had tripled.
In 1995, Cognex made the first of many acquisitions when it purchased Acumen, a U.S. based developer of wafer identification systems. Acquisitions have played an important role in the company’s growth and enabled Cognex to enter new markets for machine vision such as surface inspection and vehicle vision.
In 2004, the company won an intellectual property victory when a federal judge ruled in Cognex's favor in a patent lawsuit brought against the estate of the inventor Jerome H. Lemelson, who had filed dozens of Patents; As shown by recent cases argued in the courts, properly crediting an inventor can be murky business., New York Times The ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, 04-1451, Symbol Technologies, Inc. et al. v. Lemelson Medical, Education & Research Foundation, LP , September 9, 2005
Cognex sold off its in-vehicle product in 2007, citing concerns about profitability and intellectual property issues.
In 2015 Cognex sold off its Surface Vision Division and the associated range of products SmartView (web inspection), Vision Gear (slit inspection), Smart Advisor (process surveillance, web monitoring) and VisionPro Surface to Ametek Inc. for approximately 160M US$. The sold division represented about 12% of Cognex in terms of revenue and number of employees.
In May 2017, it was announced Cognex authorized a new stock buyback program. They authorized the purchase of up to $100 million common stock in the open market.