The AHR Expo is just a few days away.

As many longtime attendees know, it’s a busy, bustling cacophony of sound with fans and blowers running, sheet metal machinery punching and cutting and everybody talking business.

I’ve often said that unlike other, better known industries, real revolutionary products in ductwork fabrication is rare. The industry is far more evolutionary.

But as I prepare to attend the expo, perhaps I’m selling the industry a little short. Even evolutionary products can be a revelation to the contractor who is automating his or her shop for the first time.

Plus, there have been some pretty interesting machines introduced in the last year or so. Mestek Machinery has rolled out an industrial laser cutting system aimed at HVAC and sheet metal contractors. Traditionally, the big, bulky laser cutting machines often seen at trade shows such as Fabtech were too expensive and bulky for the cutting of light-gauge sheet metal, so they were rarely marketed to the industry. This new machine changes that.

Another product scheduled to be part of the Mestek booth is an ISM stitch welder that will be able to cut heavier-gauge sheet metal.

It’s a big deal, says Bryan Timmerman, Mestek’s vice president of sales and spiral product development.

“In the past, any of your fittings that were (thicker) than 20 gauge you had to spot weld them and seal them,” he says. “So you used more material and labor. And the finished product didn’t look as nice.”

If you’re going to the AHR Expo, are there any new technologies you’re hoping to check out?