RESURGENCE IN THE 1990s.
After staging a strong recovery in the late 1980s, the industry faced another setback during the recession of the early 1990s. Cnc machining Orders stagnated in 1990 at $510 million based on 5,000 units industry-wide, and slumped to 4,000 units at $410 million the following year. However, following the general economic recovery, business picked back up in 1992, and by 1993 the industry received record orders for some 6,800 robots valued at $630 million. Solid orders and shipments continued throughout the remainder of the 1990s, often at double-digit growth rates, and surpassed in 1997 the billion-dollar mark for the first time. That year, companies ordered 12,149 robots worth $1.1 billion. Though orders slowed slightly in 1998, they remained strong into 1999. As of 1999, more than 92,000 robots were in operation in U.S. industrial settings.
A corollary to the industry's robust economic performance in the 1990s was that the industry was now building and marketing its products differently.
Whereas earlier robots were ambitiously designed to take on giant tasks, but couldn't necessarily do so with great precision and reliability, designers increasingly focused their robots on performing more manageable tasks with greater consistency. Cnc machining They also made robots easier to operate and maintain. As reliability and ease of use were—and are—some of the biggest concerns companies have about robots, this helped fuel demand and improved the robotics industry's image. Robot manufacturers were also more careful not to promise more than their devices could deliver, a common complaint lodged against them during the 1980s.
Lower prices also contributed to the sales surge. Whereas in 1984 the average robot cost an estimated $82,758 (net value of orders divided by the number of units), by early 1999 the average had fallen to $76,669, not accounting for inflation. After inflation is factored in, the real reduction in prices was more than 40 percent over the 15-year period. The robotics industry has also diversified its customer base. While automotive-related manufacturing still accounted for about half of the U.S. market in 1999, inroads were being made in non-automotive materials handling, flexible manufacturing systems, and service-oriented uses. Some of the other major industry sectors purchasing robots include electronics manufacturing, food and beverage production, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and the aerospace industry.
Some of the largest robotics companies operating in the United States include ABB Flexible Automation, Adept Technology, Inc., and Fanuc Robotics. As of the late 1990s, Adept Technology was the only major U.S.-based manufacturer, while ABB was part of a Swiss-based conglomerate and Fanuc, Cnc machining the world's largest robotics company, was based in Japan. Fanuc also had a U.S. joint venture with General Electric called GE Fanuc Automation North America。