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AM and e-commerce: Materialise partners with Ditto to produce glasses

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Additive manufacturing is further penetrating the world of e-commerce, with Materialise announcing a partnership with Ditto, an eyewear personalization software developer. The move promises made-to-order glasses for Ditto’s customers.

Made-to-order technology in e-commerce reduces stocking costs while enhancing customization. The new partnership builds on successes integrating e-Commerce and additive manufacturing. Etsy partnered with Shapeways in 2019 to offer sellers customizable 3D printing solutions. Amazon plans to use 3D scans of its clients’ bodies to tailor clothes to fit.

The two companies offer similar services within their respective markets. Materialise is an AM service and software company focusing on co-creation. It offers clients access to stereolithography, laser sintering, FDM, metal printing, multi-jet fusion, and PolyJet technologies via established systems. The company uses its online platform to process client-input CAD on demand, thus absorbing equipment maintenance costs on a scale that some clients cannot afford. In so doing, the company opens additive manufacturing to a wider range of adopters.

Ditto is a disruptive eyewear company offering virtual try-on technology for the global eyewear industry. It uses advanced technologies like AI-based personalization and AR visualizations.

The deal announced between Materialise and Ditto creates another disruptive force in the eyewear industry. Increasing e-commerce offerings like Ditto and the Canadian company BonLook are sapping traditional in-store sales. Global e-commerce eyewear sales in 2019 accounted for 12% of sales; in 2020, that figure looks like it will rise 2%, with projections showing e-commerce occupying 21% of sales by 2023.

Chart showing e-commerce and mortar-and-brick eyewear sales
Chart showing e-commerce and mortar-and-brick eyewear sales

Ditto’s partnership with Materialise accelerates this trend away from brick-and-mortar purchases. Kate Doerksen, Ditto’s CEO and co-founder, said: “Our collaboration with Materialise will help us deliver on our goal of making eyewear more personal. The shift towards eCommerce, digitally enabled smart stores, and digital manufacturing is inevitable. We are excited to bring combined solutions to our clients to create a differentiated, personalized customer experience and product offering.”

This is developing news. Materialise will release further details about the partnership during its Q3 earnings call, which may occur in October 2020.

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Adam Strömbergsson

Adam is a legal researcher and writer with a background in law and literature. Born in Montreal, Canada, he has spent the last decade in Ottawa, Canada, where he has worked in legislative affairs, law, and academia. Adam specializes in his pursuits, most recently in additive manufacturing. He is particularly interested in the coming international and national regulation of additive manufacturing. His past projects include a history of his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. He has also specialized in equity law and its relationship to judicial review. Adam’s current interest in additive manufacturing pairs with his knowledge of historical developments in higher education, copyright and intellectual property protections.

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