AMS Spring 2023

Urban Alps & Fieldmade: 3D Printing Stealth Keys in Remote Microfactories

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The award-winning 3D printed Stealth Key by Urban Alps first hit the scene back in 2015, and the Swiss startup – founded by ETH Zürich and EPFL alumni – claims it is the world’s first metal 3D printed key. Made with SLM technology, the patent-protected durable key hides most of its mechanical security features internally, which makes it pretty much unscannable.

The commercially available Stealth Key is truly high security, as it offers ultimate key copy protection with fully invisible security features and doesn’t need any magnets or electronics. Now, Urban Alps is collaborating with the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI) spinoff company Fieldmade to deploy microfactories that can 3D print the Stealth Keys anywhere, anytime.

Urban Alps founder and CEO Alejandro Ojeda said in a press release, “This collaboration marks the beginning of a new industrial era, where high security mechanical keys are shipped digitally and turned into physical products at the customer’s location, no matter how remote the location – no shipping costs, no customs, immediately, and safe from unauthorized duplication.”

Founded in 2016, Fieldmade creates, manufactures, and sells fully integrated software and 3D printing solutions for deployed use. The company, which offers AM-as-a-service and virtual warehouses in addition to its AM microfactories, has a strong foothold within the NATO AM community, and last year was given its first R&D contract with the Norwegian MoD.

Fieldmade founder and CEO Christian Duun Norberg stated, “Fieldmade’s aim is to find innovative ways to bring more value to the customer, not just a revolutionary key but the benefits that novel additive manufacturing entails, for instance a digital supply chain.”

Fieldmade is a current Urban Alps Stealth Key customer, and now a future producer of the 3D printable high security keys, as the company has selected the Stealth Key as its new microfactory lock system.

“Fieldmade NOMAD systems consist of a series of mobile units designed after MILSPEC principles to be able to function under all possible conditions and still maintain secure working conditions both for machines and personnel. The systems are designed to operate at high demanding requirement sites like offshore installations and production sites,” the company wrote on its website about its microfactories.

Currently, all the available high security keys are made at multiple large factories, and depending on how remote the buyer’s location is, it could take weeks to complete and deliver their orders. In addition, key duplication is a real security threat – it’s unfortunately not that difficult to use an app, a smartphone, and a plastic printer to make unauthorized duplicates of most security keys.

Now, Urban Alps can use Fieldmade’s microfactories to reduce Stealth Key delivery time to a single day.

Ojeda said, “This cooperation is the perfect example of how two innovative companies can complement each other to deliver truly secure products in a matter of hours to customers with high security and time sensitive needs.”

Thanks to these remote microfactories, multiple customers in the energy and military sectors can order 3D printed Stealth Keys on demand, with a rapid turnaround. Additionally, a proprietary software for remote 3D printing enables both CAD and IP security, as it doesn’t require any CAD files to be sent.

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

[Images provided by Urban Alps]

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