After a tough 2012, manufacturers of machine-vision components and systems in North America expect sales to rebound this year, according to the industry's trade group.
Total sales of machine-vision products in North America fell by more than 4 percent to $1.8 billion last year, according to statistics from the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based AIA
"In 2012, the vision market in North America suffered from a slowdown in the second half of the year caused in part by the uncertainty over the U.S. presidential election as well as a cooling manufacturing environment," said Jeff Burnstein, president of the trade group.
"However, based on surveys of our members, we see an optimistic outlook about the economy and North American manufacturing, which indicates a likely return to growth in 2013."
The AIA noted that sales in some industry segments — including cameras, lighting and image boards — went up in 2012.
But softer demand for optics, software, smart cameras and application-specific machine-vision systems helped drag the overall industry numbers down from the previous year.
"The contraction in machine-vision sales in 2012 was not surprising, as many companies reduced capital-equipment expenditures late in the year," said Alex Shikany, AIA's director of market analysis.
"Despite the decline, the industry's historical trend-line still points upward."