Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA), a maker of machine-vision systems, has signed an agreement with Komatsu Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) to buy the company's machine-vision business for $11 million in cash, with potential additional performance-based payments of up to $8 million. Cognex will acquire all rights to Komatsu's machine-vision products and related technologies and will hire all employees now working at Komatsu's machine-vision business.
Although Komatsu's name is principally associated with bulldozers and other construction and mining equipment, the company also has a presence in the high-technology industry—making, for example, excimer lasers used in deep-ultraviolet lithography. Komatsu also has been a large supplier of machine-vision products to Japan's semiconductor industry. Its gray-scale machine-vision systems are used widely to check for defects in character-based wafer marks, to inspect IC leads, and as complete chip-scale package inspection machines.
The association between Cognex and Komatsu extends back to 1989. Since then, Komatsu's vision systems have been built around Cognex software and high-speed processing hardware. Komatsu then adds its own software specific to semiconductor applications.