AN East Lancashire manufacturer is tapping into digital talent to help put technology at the heart of its future growth plans.

Darwen Terracotta, the Blackburn-based manufacturer and supplier of replica architectural terracotta for the restoration and repair of historic buildings, wanted to explore how 3D scanning and printing technologies could be adopted into its processes.

Made Smarter, a national movement helping SME manufacturers in the North West to adopt digital technologies, linked Darwen Terracotta to a student at Manchester Metropolitan University, who joined the firm on a paid internship.

Darwen Terracotta operations director Steve Allen said: “So many of our manufacturing processes are by hand, but we are a forward-thinking business and want to explore how technology can help.

"We have invested in technologies before which didn’t turn out as we’d hoped, so we wanted to take a more cautious approach.

“Having an intern who could look at our factory, how we make things, and research how 3D scanning and printing can help, has been highly beneficial.

"It meant we didn’t have to take the gamble of any capital investment, but instead allowed the intern to use his university’s access to leading edge research to test various technologies first. It’s certainly a win-win for him and us.

"He’s getting that unique work experience, the opportunity to make a real difference in a business and expanding his skillset. We are getting the expertise who can share their knowledge and research and give us an independent view.”