Prodways acquires Auditech Innovations to “accelerate growth” in audiology

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French 3D printer manufacturer and service provider Prodways Group (PWG) has expanded its audiology offering through the acquisition of Auditech Innovations.

By taking control of the company, Prodways expects to be able to “accelerate the growth” of its custom-made hearing aids business, which it believes has “strong development potential”. Due to the complementary nature of the companies’ portfolios, Prodways also expects its new acquisition to benefit from its expertise in 3D printing, in a way that could help broaden the clinical adoption of the technology.

EarPro hearing protection device from Auditech Innovations. Image via Auditech Innovations.

Going beyond dental 3D printing?

Before being Subsidiated by Groupe Gorgé in 2021, Prodways has established a Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Digital Light Processing (DLP) portfolio that has gained popularity in the dental market. Last year, the company received a contract from a US customer to 3D print up to one million dental aligners per year, its largest order to date, which saw it sell a total of eight MOVINGLight DLP systems.

As its business continues to grow, generating 37% more revenue in Q1 2022 than a year earlier, Prodways is increasingly interested in acquisition opportunities. In July 2021, its then parent company Groupe Gorgé acquired Creabis, a 3D printing office that began generating cross-orders since its integration.

In 2017, Prodways also took a 75% stake in Interson-Protac before buying Surdifuse-L’Embout two years later, to develop in the 3D printing of hearing aids and hearing protection. After having absorbed the two entities, which generate 10 million euros in annual turnover, into its activity, the firm claims to have proven its ability to “effectively integrate companies” and identify “operational synergies”.

The ProMaker LD20 3D printers from Prodways.
The ProMaker LD20 3D printers from Prodways. Image via Prodways.

Develop further in audiology

Based in the North of France, Auditech Innovations is a developer of audiological products, intended to help companies that operate in noisy environments to provide hearing protection to their employees. Currently, the company’s portfolio includes EarPro, EarTech and AI filters, each designed to cancel different frequencies and sound levels, ranging from ambient noise to loud spikes.

Auditech Innovations provides a diverse base of over 300,000 users operating in various industries, through a network of French partners and sister brands. Thanks to this model, the company generated a turnover of around 3 million euros in 2021 and achieved an operating margin similar to that of Prodways itself, but it is believed that it could now expand its activities. working with its new parent company.

In particular, Auditech Innovations stands to benefit from Prodways’ experience in using digital manufacturing across the entire audiology workflow, from printing to part production. It is also understood that Auditech Innovations will now deploy 3D printing within its operations on a much larger scale, allowing it to create high-performance hearing protection adapted to the morphology of each user.

The merger of the companies should also generate operational synergies. Not only will the combination of the companies’ distributor networks expand Prodways’ accessible customer base, but it should also allow them to order materials together, thereby improving their profitability. For the future, Prodways believes that its acquisition “will strengthen its position in an attractive market with high added value”.

Researchers successfully demonstrated the possibility of making hearing aids loaded with two drugs, ciprofloxacin and fluocinolone acetonide, via DLP 3D printing.  Image via ScienceDirect.
UCL researchers have demonstrated the feasibility of making hearing aids loaded with two different drugs. Picture via UCL.

AM in audiology: a growing field

Prodways may have become an early leader in 3D printing in audiology, but the technology remains at a relatively early stage of development, as it continues to undergo intensive R&D. At University College London (UCL), researchers sought to develop 3D-printed antibacterial hearing aids that could prevent ear infections from forming after prolonged use.

In the past, 3DP4ME and World Wide Hearing also tried to raise $200,000 to bring 3D printed hearing aid molds to the Middle East. Using all funds raised, the organizations aimed to visit patients in their homes, villages and refugee camps to collect data, before moving on to 3D SLA printing and delivering the noise canceling devices directly to them.

Elsewhere, on a more commercial level, Rapid Shape has launched its own range of 3D printers for hearing aids. Consisting of the Studio-Line HA20 II, HA30 II and HA40 II, these systems are designed to enable rapid production of audiological devices.

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Featured image shows the EarPro hearing protection device from Auditech Innovations. Image via Auditech Innovations.

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