A small project I have wanted to try for some time now. 3D printing a working key!

Print and original

The idea originally came from The Modern Rogue who tested this out together with Bill Doran from Punished Props. They took a photograph of a key, sketched it out and printed it on a regular 3D printer. Then they used it to open a lock. 

For a while I have thought this was not as easy as they make it seem, because keys have odd groves on the sides. This means just copying the pins on the key, surely wouldn’t be enough?
Today I was bored and playing in CAD with another project, when I started to think about the keys again, and a thought hit me: You don’t need to match the side grooves, if the key is thin enough. And you don’t need a strong key, you just need the pins in the lock tumbler to align. Then a flat-head screwdriver can be used as a wrench to turn the lock.

I decided to test the theory and to see how long it would take. I grabbed a cheep training padlock, for practicing lock picking and snapped a photo of the key, imported it in CAD (Using Fusion 360) and sketched it out. Then I sent it to my printer over OctoPrint and printed the key. It didn’t fit very well in the lock to be honest. It was too snug and wouldn’t turn at first. However, after wiggling it a bit I managed to open the lock, without any assistance! I didn’t need a screwdriver or anything to open the lock, as the key held up just fine. 

Printed Key

The print itself took about 5 minutes, and the entire project from I found the key, till the lock opened took 26 minutes and 20 seconds. It is not a pretty key, and it is still fairly snug, but it works. I assume it will take longer to sketch a key good enough to open a higher quality lock, but it would certainly be possible. To me this is a scary project as it proves how easy it would be to use this for something less honest than opening a training lock.

Opened lock

I hope that none of my readers will use this power for evil but know that you should make sure no one is taking pictures of your keys.
Stay safe and stay honest!