A parametric model to 3D print housekeys from photos

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/10/15/security-through-obscurity.html

That’s a clever idea, but there’s a bit of work between where we are now and having this hack work reliably:

  1. current FDM plastics aren’t strong enough
  2. the models need to be much more precise
  3. FDM printers need to be more precise
  4. There are a few easily implemented coutnermeasures to such keys

There are people working on all of those aspects, so it’s really just a matter of time.

This sort of thing is sure to get people riled up but frankly anyone who has worked in construction or is any decent handyman can get through a standard door in no time, often fairly unobtrusively. Locks are mostly there to keep the mostly honest stay honest.

I always chuckled when someone would ask me to put a deadbolt on a wood framed door situated in a tool filled attached garage.

Not to mention windows without bars. Or another favorite: residential wood frame house with vinyl siding. I can go through an exterior wall with a utility knife.


All great points. Anyone who has had a freshly cut key jam in locks knows how tight these tolerances are. I would be surprised if a 3D printed key kits in a lock.

Follow the link from the article to the Kwikset key. The prototypes stuck in the lock, broke in the lock, etc. They finally got it to unlock once and then called that a success. Not quite up to what the space program calls success. Well, maybe the Russian space program… :wink:

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There is a funny Modern Rogue video about this:

(I love those two guys)

I assume that 3D type keys, like Medico, Protec2 and some others, are totally immune to this. They cost more but not much more. I don’t understand why anyone chooses “builder” grade locks like Schlages anymore. Medicos are not that much expensive and they can’t be duplicated, bumped, or picked, and are a lot more sturdy too. For the ultimate in protection against 3d imaging attacks, take a look at the EVVA MCS.

Meh. I made a key with a blank and hand files from a photo once, and it worked fine. Don’t need no stickin’ 3D printer.


If one has a correct plastic key it can easily be used to make a copy with a key cutter. You don’t even need the correct side grooves in the plastic key just the blank.

If the people doing this haven’t thought of it - they should now.


You’re still making it too complex. If you can get measurements from the photo of the key, you can figure out the cut depths as they are standard values. With that numeric value, you can cut a blank with the right tool–which are readily available. It will look like a perfect factory key–so that if it was ever observed by a guard, etc. it wouldn’t gather any suspicion–unlike a plastic key or some ratty self filed job.



Well, I think this might be a bit unfair to the Russian space program.
E.g., Soyuz:

Despite its age and perhaps thanks to its simplicity, this rocket family has been notable for its low cost and very high reliability

Yeah, except for Soyuz-1, -3, and -11, they were great.

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