It was a busy and invigorating week at Design & Manufacturing Midwest, with new product introductions, a surprising keynote address, and presentations highlighting innovative applications.

And speaking of applications, the show featured an Innovation Briefs Theater, which showcased presentations from experts at leading OEM suppliers, right on the show floor. On Wednesday, Dr. Ronald L. Hollis, president and CEO of Quickparts, presented “The Power of Online Manufacturing.” Hollis discussed how the Internet and online technologies have transformed the manufacturing community over the past decade, making it easy for customers to buy custom-designed parts.

Over the past ten years, online manufacturing has evolved into much more than simply online instant quoting. With a business model that resembles, Hollis explained how Quickparts has brought a retail mindset to the manufacturing world.

Yesterday, Autodesk took the Innovation Briefs stage to talk about how their 3D design software helped a company develop a digital prototype of a bone conduction hearing solution. Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions used Autodesk Inventor software to develop the Baha solution that uses direct bone conduction to transfer sound to the cochlea. This method bypasses the outer and middle ear when transmitting sound vibrations to the inner ear. As a result, individuals with hearing loss can experience clearer sound in everyday situations like phone calls and group meetings.

To design the bone conduction implant and the external sound processor that constitute the Baha system, Cochlear needed to precisely design, engineer, and manufacture parts on the scale of one-hundred-thousandths of a millimeter. Autodesk Inventor helped achieve that precision by providing detailed 3D views of the products before anything was built.

I’ll be resting and reviewing everything I’ve seen this week, and on Monday, I’ll begin a week of post-show coverage.