It's always interesting to witness the progression of companies between trade shows. Months or year(s) have gone by, and in between, exhibiting companies don't idle — they find new ways to meet the ever-growing demands of the medical industry.

One of those demands is customization of orthopedic implants. At this year's Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) East show, I spoke with Micron Products  about their work with ConforMIS to develop a patient-specific knee replacement system, which allows a customized implant to be modeled and produced from a patient's scans in a matter of days.

When it comes to medical components, everyone is still looking to go smaller and faster, without compromising on performance. A Mini Hybrid Connector from Colder Products Company  is an example of a new product that fits this trend by combining air lines and electronics into a compact single connection point.

Bayer MaterialScience  aims to meet another demand — for smaller, less intrusive medical devices — by launching a new grade of medical polycarbonate designed for molding devices with extremely thin walls (as low as 0.014 inches) and long flow lengths (150 millimeters).

Still, even if you're in sync with the needs of the medical device industry, somtimes you just don't have the funds to get your idea off the ground. Proto Labs is hoping to prevent that from happening with the Cool Idea! Award . Simply enter online by sharing a few details and uploading a 3D CAD model of your idea. Then, if you're selected, you can use Proto Labs' parts for prototyping, testing, or even an initial production run. The company plans to select "cool ideas" on an ongoing basis through 2011, until it has awarded $100,000 in services.