Thursday, 12 December 2013

"Why is it that all true geeks end up straying onto activities that were they not geeks would be considered criminal?"

I posted a video of this on FaceBook, and my friend commented as per the subject. Not that key cutting is criminal, but I get what he is saying. It's the challenge!

Yes, you can simply print a typical key on a 3D printer in 10 minutes and it does actually work a work!

To my surprise it does not even wear out that quickly - we have been playing around with this key quite a bit. Obviously nothing like as durable as a metal key.

I decided to design it from scratch as that is more fun, and it took me around 5 attempts to get it right. One of the key things was which way to print the key. As the print is built up in layers this matters. Printing it "up right", i.e. the bit you hold at the bottom, created a key that simply snapped when turned as that puts force between the printed layers. Printing horizontally worked a lot better.

I may have a go as higher security keys later. Just for fun.


15 comments:

  1. Have you tried printing a key from an inprint of another in plasticine just like the movies ?

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    1. I may have to try that some time...

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    2. Or the 3d scanner used for the Dalek-breeding? Presumably the scanner could scan the plasticine imprint, then reverse the shape in software to give a positive model to print out, or just scan the key itself if available. (I wonder if it could work from the X-ray image of a key as it goes through airport security...?)

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    3. Might be good fun to work from photos of keys, too - could you take a photo of a key with (say) a cheap smartphone and still get enough detail to print a usable key?

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    4. Working from smartphone photos could get fun, if scary - how much work do you need to put into taking a picture of a key or bunch of keys in order to clone it?

      The idea that you could take a casual photo with a smartphone of a desk that *happens* to have a bunch of keys on it, go home, and print a workable key is a good reminder of the importance of physical security...

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    5. Already done by locksmiths - even by mail order (US shipping only): https://keysduplicated.com/index.html - they have some precautions (not duplicating keys which say 'do not duplicate', wanting a close-up with your fingers visible, not just a cropped distance shot), but of course those are just self-imposed constraints: with your own equipment, or a more trusting supplier, that's not an issue.

      I can imagine an open-source version of the software they use for driving a 3d printer from a photo of a key automatically - and of course there's a 3d printer out there already which uses metal rather than plastic, too. Grab a suitable photo, process it and print - voila, your own key to whatever that one operates!

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  2. That's quite impressive. Now all you need to do is buy and embed some 3x1mm neodynium magnets and you can duplicate the Avocet ABSs. Frightening.

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    1. Funny you should say that, £5.00 for a bag of 50 3mmx1mm neodymium magnets and £2.50 postage - well thats what the order confirmation said first thing this morning :-)

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  3. because geeks (for differing values of geek) actually read the laws, understand them and know what they actually say, rather than just assuming that something is illegal 'cos it "looks a bit dodgy"

    BTW - awesome idea for storing spare keys - store them virtually on an encrypted disk... you could even make something really secure by destroying all the physical keys, once locked... Of course, you're then only as secure as your encryption. And need a reliable and available 3d printer. Oh, the possibilities!

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    1. And be careful as to which room in which you manage to lock the 3D printer.

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  4. Why go to the bother of making keys, since there are plenty of videos on YouTube that show you how to pick locks of the kind shown in your pic.

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    1. Different type of geeky, perhaps.

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  5. Answering the question in the title, I suspect it's because geeks do things for no reward other than the knowledge gained; if a non-geek is creating a key on a 3D printer, he's doing it to gain access to somewhere he has no right to be; when a geek does it, she's aiming to learn whether it's possible, and if so, how hard is it.

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  6. I would expect it to be quite easy to create a mold for pouring out actual metal instead of plastic. If toughness were to become an issue.

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