Materialise Makes ‘Strategic Investment’ in Virtual Eyewear Try-On Firm Ditto as Companies Begin Collaboration

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LEUVEN, Belgium and OAKLAND, Calif.—Materialise NV  (Nasdaq:MTLS), a global leader in 3D printing solutions, has made a strategic investment in Ditto, an Oakland-based developer of virtual eyewear try-on platforms, according to an announcement earlier this week. In addition, the two companies will collaborate to advance the digital transformation in the eyewear industry and support the creation of new and personalized shopping experiences. The details of the investment by Materialise were not disclosed. The introduction of advanced digital technologies in the eyewear industry is creating new opportunities, including the possibility to offer personalized frame recommendations and virtual try-on solutions, the announcement noted.

As part of an end-to-end digital platform, frames also can be 3D printed, which supports the creation of unique and personalized designs, reduces stock risks and enables a more sustainable manufacturing process.

Ditto partners with retailers, brands and eyecare professionals to create personalized shopping experiences for eyewear customers. Its platform captures a precise map of each customer’s face and their personal style preferences to make insightful recommendations, determine precise fit and style, and visualize it all with vivid realism, according to the announcement. In the process, their clients gain a deeper understanding of each customer that opens up new opportunities to better serve them across channels.

“Our collaboration with Materialise will help us deliver on our goal of making eyewear more personal,” Ditto chief executive and co-founder Kate Doerksen said. “The shift toward e-commerce, 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.”

Materialise has three decades of 3D printing experience and has pioneered the fast transformation of the hearing aid industry. The company is now using its expertise to transform the eyewear industry by creating a digital manufacturing platform.

“3D printing holds the potential to transform industries by making it possible to create unique designs, manufacture in small batches and offer levels of personalization never seen before,” Alireza Parandian, global head of business strategy for wearables at Materialise, said. “With three decades of 3D printing experience, Materialise is ideally positioned to drive these industry transformations. Our collaboration with Ditto confirms our commitment to create an end-to-end digital platform for the eyewear industry.”

Materialise said it will provide additional details about the transaction during its Q3 earnings call, which is expected later this fall.