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Cognex buys EnShape to add 3D vision to product portfolio

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Cognex has purchased German-based 3D firm EnShape for an undisclosed fee. The acquisition is the second 3D vision company Cognex has bought this year, acquiring Spanish 3D software firm Aqsense in August 2016.

EnShape, based in Jena, Germany, manufactures advanced 3D vision sensors and software. The company’s 3D sensors use structured light and area-scan technology for fast image capture at high resolution. The technique means the object under inspection has to be stationary to capture the image, as opposed to laser triangulation which scans moving objects.

EnShape’s team of 3D vision engineers will become part of a new Cognex engineering centre based in Jena.

The number of vendors selling 3D vision equipment has grown considerably over the past 20 years, with companies like Sick and LMI now offering all-in-one smart 3D cameras that make 3D technology a lot more accessible to factory engineers and integrators. Cognex is the latest machine vision company to add 3D inspection capabilities to its product portfolio.

On 30 August, Cognex also completed the acquisition of Aqsense, a provider of 3D vision software based in Girona, Spain. Aqsense develops and sells a library of 3D vision tools and a configuration software package that helps customers set up their 3D vision applications. The company's software engineers joined Cognex's 3D engineering team upon the closing of the acquisition.

‘We see a growing number of opportunities for 3D vision in industries such as automotive, consumer electronics and logistics, to name just a few,’ said Joerg Kuechen, vice president of vision products for Cognex. ‘We believe that our acquisition of these two companies, especially the addition of two highly experienced new engineering teams, will accelerate our ability to bring innovative new 3D products to market.’

Cognex reported the highest net income and earnings per share from continuing operations in the third quarter of 2016 for any quarter in the company's 35-year history.

Revenue for Q3 2016 increased 38 per cent from Q3 2015 and was essentially flat with Q2 2016. A notable contributor to growth year-on-year was large orders from the consumer electronics industry. For the nine months ended 2 October 2016, the company registered revenue of $391,431,000.

‘Our third quarter performance was impressive,’ said Robert Willett, CEO of Cognex. ‘Revenue grew significantly year-on-year as large opportunities drove growth well above our 20 per cent long-term target for factory automation. Operating margin expanded to 37 per cent compared to 26 per cent in the third quarter a year ago, reflecting the substantial leverage that incremental revenue has on our profitability. And, earnings per share were significantly higher than consensus expectations even when you exclude the $0.07 per share tax benefit from stock option exercises that we recognised during the quarter. We are pleased to see our hard work deliver such great results.’

Cognex will be displaying its new 3D vision capabilities at the Vision show in Stuttgart, Germany from 8 to 10 November.

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