NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory held its annual open house earlier this month, and like any good space dork I was there. There, of course, was all manner of exciting and interesting stuff to see, tended by scientists who seemed genuinely surprised and delighted by the fact that so many locals want to come gawk at their robots and celestial maps.
One of the best details, however, are the vending machines that dispense precision drill bits, saw blades, couplers, and other bits of tooling.
At first I thought the vending machines were a very clever idea birthed at JPL, a great way to dispense and keep track of small tools and consumable resources. While this is indeed a clever idea, I found that the vending machine for tools idea is not JPL's. After a bit of extremely cunning internet sleuthing (pro tip: I Googled the name on the front of the machines) I soon learned that these are CribMaster Tool Vending machines, used all over the place.
I'll admit, I was a bit disappointed to find that these weren't some exciting JPL hack, and that there was still a Twix stuck in every sixth drill bit or something. I soon got over that because no matter where they are, to folks only accustomed to getting alcoholic-branded weird snacks out of vending machines, these seem novel. I've been around machine tools, but only in smaller-type shops, so I had never seen these things.
I suppose if you're a dedicated embezzler or company supply-purloiner, these are ruining everything for you, but for the rest of us, I think they're pretty great.