I was at the American Welding Society's trade show at McCormick place today. Even though I am a hobbyist, I thought it was fantastic. There was lots to see--Lincoln's new 185, Miller's little Maxstars, numerous functioning robots, fume extractors, tools, etc. The robot were especially interesting. Unlike other shows, these were actually moving (although not actually welding for obvious reasons). All the major brands were there--Lincoln, Miller, Thermal Dynamics, ESAB, Panasonic, Hypertherm, and numerous others. All the exhibits had something nifty, but none beat Tregaskiss (sp?) which had two scantily clad models.
The show runs through Thursday and is free. If you go, keep in mind that parking is $14. Bring your own food or expect to pay $7 for a slice of undercooked pizza.