Whenever I go to a large-scale trade event, I am always impressed with the advances in stoneworking technology. Whether it is a new CNC bridge saw or an advanced piece of polishing equipment, it seems that there is always something new on the show floor -- complete with a half-dozen fabricators looking on with their nose pressed against the window of the machine (well, sort of).

At StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas a couple of weeks ago, however, I was struck by some of the smaller details that exhibitors were addressing with their new innovations at the event. Whether it was a new product for surface scratch removal, an invention for seam leveling or even something as simple as an innovative approach to manufacturing wooden shims, it seems that suppliers to the stone fabrication market are offering solutions to common problems -- particularly on the jobsite.

Moreover, in talking to the inventors of these products, many of them come from the stone fabrication sector. The scenario is usually the same: As a stone fabricator/installer, kept running into the same problems on the job, came up with something to overcome those problems, and ultimately decided to market these solutions on a mass scale. In many cases, they hooked up with a North American distributor of fabrication products, and they are marketing their products through these companies. And where better to demonstrate these products to one's peers than on the floor of a trade show?

That is not, of course, to say that all of these innovations originated here in the U.S. As I walked through the halls of StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas, I also noticed a number of such innovations from companies that are based overseas. Among them, I took note of a very simple roller solution for sliding full-height backsplashes across a countertop. It seems obvious, but with the thousand (million?) other things that an installer has to worry about, it might not immediately be a consideration.

Also of interest, I once again saw several pieces of machinery for processing scrap stone into rough-faced pieces to be stacked as wall cladding. As I watched one of these machines at work during StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas, I overheard one of the fabricators question whether or not these pieces can actually be sold for profit, and two others quickly told him that consumers are indeed buying such cladding pieces. So not only is this solution providing a way to process waste, but it is also creating a much-needed revenue stream when the products are successfully marketed.

We will be featuring several of these innovations in future print and online editions of Stone World. And since journalism isn't just limited to words and photos anymore, I even shot some videos of these innovations at work and placed them on Stone World's YouTube Channel. You can find them at www.YouTube.com/StoneWorldMagazine