SICK's company history

When used in combination with precise optics and intelligent electronics, light can provide the answer to a wide range of issues. This potential was recognized quite some time ago by Dr. E.h. Erwin Sick, who set up his own company back in 1946. In the years that followed, Sick developed his company into a global provider of intelligent sensors and solutions for industrial automation technology.

    • SICK AssetHub

      SICK AssetHub: SICK AssetHub is a digital web service with which the digital twins of all devices or plants of a company can be managed, independent of manufacturer.

    • outdoorScan3

      outdoorScan3: The first of its kind worldwide: SICK presents the outdoorScan3, a safety laser scanner for outdoor applications.

    • AppSpace

      AppSpace: SICK AppSpace combines software and hardware and consists of two elements: the programmable SICK sensors and the SICK AppStudio, an application development kit for sensor applications.

    • InspectorP6x

      InspectorP6x: Image processing 4.0 - Programmable InspectorP6xx camera.

    • microScan3

      microScan3: The innovative safeHDDM® scanning technology provides the microScan3 outstanding robustness, even in dust and ambient light, and delivers high-precision measurement data. This increases productivity and machine availability.

    • GLARE

      GLARE: GLARE gloss sensors determine the gloss level of flat object surfaces and can differentiate between objects of different gloss levels.

    • Flexi Loop

      Flexi Loop: The unique, remote integration design of the Flexi Loop allows SICK to meet the demand for cost-saving cascading of safe switches and sensors within a machine.

      DeltaPac: For more efficiency and quality in the packaging industry: The DeltaPac multi-task photoelectric switch combines Delta-S technology®, two high-resolution energy scales, SIRIC® and distance measurement. The sensor detects object contours with radii of up to 20 mm regardless of direction thanks to the four operating modes that can be selected with a click.

    • GHG-Control

      GHG-Control: Measuring greenhouse gases instead of calculating them

      FLOWSIC500: The world's first ultrasonic compact gas meter for gas distribution.

    • EKS/EKM36

      EKS/EKM36: New motor feedback system with digital HIPERFACE DSL interface.

      MERCEM300Z: Advanced mercury monitoring system with improved sensitivity.

    • Color Ranger E

      Color Ranger E: The world's first high-speed 3D camera with high-performance color measurements.

    • Navigation basierend auf natürlichen Landmarken

      Navigation based on natural landmarks.

    • 2007

      High-end CCD sensor with integrated illumination.

    • Kleinster Sicherheits-Laserscanner

      Smallest safety laser scanner S300.

    • 2005

      IO-Link: Continuous communication through innovative sensor/actuator interface.

      RFID systems make it possible to identify objects without visual contact between reader and object to be identified.

    • Dreidimensionale Kamerasensoren

      3D camera sensors.

    • 2004

      First high-safety, camera-based safety system for presses.

    • 2003

      New generation of photoelectric switches: Sensor array with place- and time-triggered measurement of both the object to be detected and especially the environment.

    • 2002

       Proximity laser scanner with dynamic protective field switching for automated guided systems.

    • Hochgeschwindigkeits-2D-Codeleser

      High-speed 2D code reader. 

      Teach-in vision sensor.

    • 2000

      Miniature cylinder sensor.

      Safety bus system.

    • 1999

      First photoelectric switch for detecting light sections of a laser line on a 32 x 32 pixel field for determining the shape and position of objects.

      First budget photoelectric switch based on time-of-flight technology.

      First photoelectric switch with Teflon-coated housing for the electronic and process industry.

      First bar code reader with integrated autofocus based on time-of-flight technology.

      Smallest fully extrusion-coated magnet sensor

    • 1998

      First photoelectric proximity sensor which is insensitive to ambient light sources.

    • 1997

      SICK modular advanced recognition technology (SMART) makes it possible to identify even damaged bar codes.

      First contrast scanner with dynamic teach-in and high switching frequency.
    • 1996

      First time-of-flight device for positioning items in high-bay warehouses.

      First photoelectric switch with ambient light.

      First miniature photoelectric switch with background suppression.

      First application of a proximity laser scanner for volume measurement.

      First luminescence scanner in the field of automation technology with UV LED.

    • 1995

      First color sensor.

    • 1993

      First area scanner in safety category 3 for protecting hazardous areas.

    • 1991
      First use of area scanners for site security (e.g., when entering or leaving through lock gates and access points).
    • Erste Entfernungserfassung mit Laserlicht

      First distance determination with laser light on the time-of-flight of pulses principle.

    • 1986

       First in-situ diode array spectrometer for sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and ammonia.

    • 1983

      Carbon monoxide measuring device for monitoring emissions in road tunnels.

      First use of printed code characters that can be scanned by laser scanners.
    • Erstes Volumenstrommessgerät

      First volume flow measuring device based on the ultrasound time-of-flight process.

    • 1978

      First in-situ gas measurement device for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide (filter correlator).

      First photoelectric switch for detecting the position of a reflector by means of a four-fold reception element.
    • 1976

      First area scanner with V-shaped, rotating beam and special reflector in safety category 2 for protecting hazardous areas.

    • 1975

      Introduction of the semiconductor diode for the transmitter beam in photoelectric switches and proximity switches.

      First safety grid curtain for controlling protective hoods on eccentric presses.

      First color-ring code reader for detecting colored ring codes on ampules.

    • 1973

      Fiber-optic cable for detecting small objects when space is tight.

    • 1970

       First luminescence scanner for detecting luminophores in objects.

    • 1967

       Bar-code identification of packing lists, folding boxes, tins, tubes, etc. in the pharmaceutical industry.

    • 1964

      First curve control device for guiding a duplicating milling machine according to a construction diagram – the predecessor of today's NC milling machine.

    • 1962

      First optical height scanner for regulating filling levels.

    • 1960

      First weft winder monitor for very thin knitting thread (autocollimation principle).

    • optischer Zähler

      First rapid optical counter with display and integrated target value definition for quick detection of small objects.

    • 1956

      First optical-electronic flue gas monitor based on the autocollimation principle.

    • Unfallschutz-Lichtvorhang

       Static accident prevention light curtain with hollow mirror, without mirror wheel.

    • Nahtaster Sensor
      The NT1 close-range scanner:
      • A printed mark control device for the packaging industry
      • First light curtain for accident prevention on production machines
    • Skizze
      First practice-oriented photoelectric switches based on the autocollimation principle for industrial automation.
    • 2019
    • 2018
    • 2017
    • 2016
    • 2015
    • 2014
    • 2013
    • 2012
    • 2011
    • 2010
    • 2009
    • 2007
    • 2006
    • 2005
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    • 2004
    • 2003
    • 2002
    • 2001
    • 2000
    • 1999
    • 1998
    • 1997
    • 1996
    • 1995
    • 1993
    • 1991
    • 1989
    • 1986
    • 1983
    • 1982
    • 1978
    • 1976
    • 1975
    • 1973
    • 1970
    • 1967
    • 1964
    • 1962
    • 1960
    • 1959
    • 1956
    • 1952
    • 1951
    • 1950
  • 1946

    The company known today as SICK AG is born:
    Erwin Sick obtains a license from the American military government in Munich to set up his own engineering firm.
    Presentation of the first marketable accident prevention light curtain at the International Machine Tool Trade Fair in Hanover. The orders that followed led to the initial serial production and the economic breakthrough.
    The company moves to Waldkirch, Germany with its 25 employees.

    The first subsidiary is founded in France.
    The company expands overseas with the founding of a subsidiary in the USA.
    Erwin Sick dies at the age of 79. Gisela Sick takes over from her husband and leads the company as its primary shareholder.
    Erwin Sick GmbH changes its company status to an “Aktiengesellschaft” or joint stock company.
    The first employee shares are issued domestically and abroad.
    SICK celebrates its 60th anniversary.
    SICK is one of the world’s leading solutions providers for sensor-based applications in the industrial sector. Founded in 1946 by Dr.-Ing. e. h. Erwin Sick, the company with headquarters in Waldkirch im Breisgau near Freiburg ranks among the technological market leaders. With 60 subsidiaries and equity investments as well as numerous agencies, SICK maintains a presence around the globe. SICK has more than 12,000 employees worldwide and generated a group revenue of EUR 2.3 billion in the 2023 fiscal year.



    Erwin Sick was born on November 3 to a train driver in Heilbronn, Germany.
    1924 - 1928
    Apprenticeship in the field of optics.
    Start of career at Siemens & Halske, Berlin, as an optical arithmetician; however, the department was closed after six months. He was moved to the laboratory and was given experimental, arithmetic, and constructive tasks, particularly in the area of color film.
    1934 – 1939
    Employment – initially as a constructor, later as an engineer – at Siemens, Bosch and Askania working on demanding development projects on color film, cinematics, and astronomical and physical devices.
    1939 - 1945
    Laboratory manager at the optical works of A.C. Steinheil & Söhne, Munich.
    Married Gisela Neumann.





    Became self-employed: In an old barracks in Vaterstetten near Munich, where Erwin Sick lived with his wife, he single-mindedly followed his technological development aims to produce opto-electronic devices. He used the earnings from selling radios he made himself to support his family.
    Founded what was later to become SICK AG on September 26: The apolitical Erwin Sick received a permit from the American military government to practice his profession as an engineer.
    First orders received at the “Achema” fair in Frankfurt after a long hiatus. This was an exhibition meeting for chemical apparatus organized by suppliers to the chemical industry.


    At the “German Inventor and New Development Trade Fair” in Munich in July, Sick presents the first wooden model he had made of his light curtain and receives a certificate for exceptional creative performance. On October 20, the patent registration for the light curtain invented by Erwin Sick based on the autocollimation principle is the technical breakthrough and forms the basis of an entire range of devices.


    Sick presents the first marketable accident prevention light curtain at the Second International Machine Tool Trade Fair in Hanover. The orders that followed led to the initial serial production and eventually to the company's economic breakthrough.


    Erwin Sick tries in vain to obtain a loan from the Free State of Bavaria to build up the company. When Baden-Württemberg offers to lend him the money he needs, he moves from Munich to Oberkirch in Baden.


    Relocation of the company – along with its 25 employees – from Oberkirch to Waldkirch into the building of August Faller KG, located at An der Allee 7-9. 
    In October, Sick is granted the patent for a new type of photoelectric retro-reflective sensor that will later become the product with one of the company's strongest sales.

    Founding of the “Institute for Automation” in Munich for developing optoelectronic devices for industrial applications. Sick's main argument for founding the organization in Bavaria's state capital is the shortage of qualified engineers in Waldkirch.



    Erwin Sick is presented with the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse (Order of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ist Class) by Justice Minister Rudolf Schieler on November 26 to commemorate the company's 25th anniversary. 

    1976/77 Building erected on Sebastian-Kneipp-Strasse. The house at An der Allee 7-9 is given back to the town.

    1977 Moved into the new factory on Sebastian-Kneipp-Strasse, which remains the company's headquarters to this day.


    On November 19, the Faculty for Machines at the Technical University of Munich awards Erwin Sick his honorary doctorate in engineering in recognition of his contribution to the scientific and constructive development of optical devices with electronic signal evaluation.


    On December 2, Erwin Sick receives the gold Diesel Medal for his numerous inventions in the field of opto-electronics.


    Erwin Sick dies on December 3 after suffering a fatal heart attack at the age of 79.