NASA Has The Coolest Vending Machines In The World

Illustration for article titled NASA Has The Coolest Vending Machines In The World

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.

The machines are located in JPL's machine shops, the birthplace of all our Mars rovers and the farthest man-made object from Earth, among many other famous robotic spacecraft.


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.

Illustration for article titled NASA Has The Coolest Vending Machines In The World

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.

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Ash78, voting early and often

"So then I walk up and I'm like 'G7 - 13mm carbide forstner bit' and I put my $419 using all ones and fives and half those bills got washed last week so they're all crumply, and the bastard gets stuck on the way out. So I stand there for like 15 minutes until Joe from liquid fuel research walks up and I'm like 'Hey Joe you don't happen to need that forstner in G7 do you?' and he's like 'As if!' and hits G8 just to fuck with me. That's the Hydrogen Peroxide stabilizer solution that I know for a fact he already has at his desk, but whatev. Then I start shaking the machine and that big fat lady from security comes out of nowhere and tells me to chill. I told her what happened and she just said I needed to write a letter to CribMaster and wait for my refund. So I just gave up and went back to my desk. Then about 2 hours later I come by for a Mountain Dew Redzone and I look over and the thing is gone!! Somebody just scored that bit BOGO and now they're ALL gone. Should I send an 'all employees' email or just post an angry rant on my facebook page? I swear some of these people. They may be rocket scientists, but they act like a bunch of brain surgeons."