A Teesside company is investing further in 3D printing after seeing the benefits that the technology brings to NHS patients using hearing aids and seeing demand for its services increase.

Normanby Laboratory Services provides custom-made earpieces for hearing aids to the NHS supply chain as well as hearing protection for industrial, sporting and leisure use under the name Plugzz.

Paul Lincoln and his wife Diane moved their business into UK Steel Enterprise’s Innovation Centre on Redcar’s Kirkleatham Business Park in 2013 to gain additional office and workshop space to expand and have since doubled their workforce.  The company is an approved NHS supplier dealing with hospitals across the UK and Wales.

“We have also just heard that we have been awarded a place on the NHS Scotland and Northern Ireland’s approved supplier list after a rigorous tendering process,” said Paul, “and we recently started expanding our presence within Specsavers Hearcare group.   

“We invested in our first 3D printer four years ago and it has proved so successful that we have now bought a second printer and set up a dedicated print room.   Their use brings major benefits to the NHS, saving costs and time, and helps people who lose their earpiece, especially those who may be elderly and living in a care home.

“It means we can arrange a replacement earpiece direct from our labs without the need for a patient to visit hospital or for a clinician to visit them at home to re-do the impression of the ear.  Akif Choudhry from Puretone, the UK distributor for Asiga 3D printers, has visited to complete the installation and provide additional training so we now have the increased capacity to grow the business further.”

Normanby Laboratory Services’ six -strong team is likely to grow with this recent investment.  Paul Lincoln was the first ear mould technician working within the NHS and NLS is now one of a small number of companies with the high level of expertise, experience and accreditations to operate within this multi million pound market.

The company also supplies custom-made hearing protection under the trading name Plugzz and this side of the business has grown equally strongly. It supplies sportsmen, including some of the UK’s top shooters such as Olympian Skeet shooter Amber Hill, musicians, motorcyclists and industrial users, including chemical giant Sabic.

“The Innovation Centre has proved to be a really good place to grow our business,” said Paul.  “The UK Steel Enterprise team is always here to provide support and the facilities are first class.”

Sue Kirk of UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business-support subsidiary, said: “Normanby Laboratory Services is a great example of a smaller business that operates very successfully in a multi-million pound market thanks to a high level of expertise and it is continuing to invest.

“Our Innovation Centres at Redcar and Hartlepool support businesses like NLS by providing the cost-effective offices, workshops and facilities they need so they can concentrate on their own business.”

Details of UK Steel Enterprise’s support for businesses from 01642 777 777 and www.uksteelenterprise.co.uk.  Normanby Laboratory services is on 01642 777 725, www.normanbylabs.co.uk