back to article 3D printer produces working house keys

3D printing tools have been used to roll out working house keys, meaning trips to the hardware store could soon be replaced by a straightforward PC set-up. Apple software engineer Nirav Patel generates a key's blueprint with the manufacturer's lock code, which contains all the relevant bit dimensions. This information is fed …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Return To Sender


    Excellent! So now when I get home without my keys, I can run off a set on my 3D printer which is in my spare room... oh, hang on...

    Mind you, something like this issued to the RAC/AA/ whatever rescue service with secure access(!) to a database of car key patterns might be handy for anybody whose locked their keys in the boot (yes, like me...)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No need

      Car manufacturers are in the habit of leaving back doors to their central locking systems anyway. They are normally a mile wide such as if you remove the ******* take the ***** touch it against the ****** and then all the locks on the car magically open! Why they think this information will not fall into the hands of thieves is beyond me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC 10:16

        Like hell they are. Name one current manufacturer that does this? If you think that your car can do it then take it back to the dealer, the locks are fucked.

        The only "back door" to bypassing a locked car door is to use the brick through the window technique.

        1. Simon Round

          @Micky 1

          I used to have a Ford Focus which was build in 2003. Whilst out shopping the wife managed to lock the keys in the boot.

          Called out the AA who promptly arrived, unscrewed one of the lights (I won't say which one), removed the bulb and connected a small box of tricks to the connections in the bulb socked. Pressed a button and the central locking unlocked all the door.

          Time taken to from start to finish was about 2 minutes.

          So there you go. Ford named as a manufacturer that certainly has done this in the past and probably still does.

          Admittably you would still need the small box of tricks but I would imagine it was nothing special and any self respecting car thief would have one of these in their arsenal.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Hang on just came over all stupid for a moment there

          Micky 1 you are 100% correct if ever you lock your keys in your car that's exactly what you should do, what was I thinking.

          Anyone else might want to call the AA and watch what they do and shudder at how easy it is, or in some cases phone the manufacturer who will unlock it for you over the phone.

          But Micky 1 a brick through the window is definitely the only possible way of getting into your car and the special cars of all the special people like you.

    2. joshimitsu

      Did somebody say secure...

      and database in the same sentence???!!!

  2. There's a bee in my bot net

    Shh... stop talking about 3D printers...

    ...otherwise the politicians will freak out about what they are capable of, spurred on by those industry types with a vested interest in not wanting home users to be able to print spare parts for their products or outright copies. Before you know it they will be illegal to own!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      So can you copyright a 3D object?

      1. a cynic writes...


        If it's an artistic expression, yes. Otherwise no. But, it could also be patented, trade marked or a registered design. Of these registered design is the one most likely to catch you out.

        see for details.

    2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      It's worse than that, Jim

      HM.Gove will convince themselves that next week someone will be using a 3D fax machine to remotely send keys to a 3D printer.

      Or t'Mail will have found someone who wants to do 3D versions of the 'photocopy tits or knob' game.

      Or the Taliban have found a way of faxing IED's.

      Don't tell me it couldn't happen, there's every chance, we are doomed.

    3. Mike Richards Silver badge

      A Cory Doctorow story

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    Print in wax

    Then use in a lost wax casting.

    Chrome plate the result...

    Overkill for a one off entry (such as that required by the AA, or a thief)

    1. Tom Wood

      Probably easier

      for simple locks at least to use the 3d-printed version as a master for cutting a metal key using traditional key copying techniques (as found in your local shoe repairers).

      Though higher-security locks will use proprietary (patented) keys that you can't get cut on the high street.

      And as long as you have glass windows without security bars/shutters you can never make a house very secure.

    2. duann

      3D Print in Stainless steel

      You can already 3D print in stainless steel at Shapeways

      I am guessing it would cost around $10 to 3D print a key

  4. Conrad Longmore

    Someone pointed out

    Someone pointed on the original site out that you could use the printed plastic key to make a mould, although then you'd be mucking around with molten bits of metal which might be a bit dicey if you don't know what you're doing.

    But.. it's scary that anyone with a sufficiently powerful digital camera could clone your keys if you leave them in public view.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      re: mucking around with molten bits of metal which might be a bit dicey

      Not at all!

      Refer to wiki search for Woods Metal.

      Ideal for making teaspoons out of.. (yes I have a few) its priceless when you ask someone to examine the metal spoon, poor the kettle and stir the water... wtf it melted... yup.

      1. Swoop

        @AC 10:56

        I sincerely hope you don't let your victims drink the resulting brew. Lead and cadmium? Yummy!

        1. Mike Richards Silver badge

          Old chemist trick

          Mould a spoon out of gallium and get the victim to stir their coffee with it. It looks like stainless steel but has a melting point of 30C.

          Now such hilarity is available to the masses:

          Mind you I've been in some labs where the coffee can melt a stainless steel spoon.

          1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

            You crazy boffins and your whacky spoon-based lab-pranks!


        2. Old Handle

          Lead and cadmium

          Use Field's metal instead. Indium, bismuth and tin. Pricier, but much less toxic. And incidentally, I have copied keys with it (just for fun of course).

  5. P Saunders

    Combination locks on all windows

    and biometrics on all the doors

    1. James Thomas

      and the combination is....

      12345, obviously

    2. Anonymous Coward

      re: Combination locks on all windows

      My windows don't allow keys on the outside.


    3. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Brick Mk1

      plus crowbar V2.145 will do the trick.

      'A bit of the old inout'

      1. nyelvmark

        My windows don't allow keys on the outside.

        Do they allow bricks?

  6. Nick 6

    Only key cutting ?

    If you can't also repair shoes with this device, it'll never catch on...

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Print a new one!

      Easy once you have one shoe blueprint, the other is mirror'd.

      And if your feet differ slightly in size (length/width), that's easily adjusted too.

      I'm dumping my stock in Simpson's as we speak.

  7. LaeMing
    Thumb Up

    You could also

    use the recreated key as a template to cut a metal one.

    Then again, a small c-mill machine could do it from the input direct without the middle-object.

    Nice demo, though.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bump Lock Keys unimpressed

  9. Anonymous John

    I bet

    You could have a shedload of keys cut commercially for the cost of the 3d printer.

  10. Asgard

    That's a nice high resolution 3d print job.

    I've not seen a RepRap print that is that high res before. I would love to have a 3d printer that could work at that resolution. Very impressive work. :)

    1. duann


      Hey asgard,

      Check out Shapeways for high res 3D prints..

  11. William Boyle

    Duplicate high security keys?

    I'll wonder if they can duplicate high security keys as well. You know, the ones with little holes and dimples in the key instead of hills and valleys on the edge for the pins?

  12. Anonymous Coward


    OK, so as a concept, full marks.

    But let's look again. You are "using the manufacturer's lock code, which contains all the relevant bit dimensions" to generate the pattern. FAIL! Why wouln't you just use a standard digital key cuttting machine hooked up to the same database - then you'd get a genuine metal key.

    There is ZERO reason you would use a 3D printer to make a key when there are many other ways to make a metal key using the same information to hand.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019