23 logoLock picking is certainly a handy skill when you or someone you know is standing — mouth agape with surprise and dismay — at the door, with no key, and a load of groceries in the car. It’s a surprising talent I’ve seen come in handy a couple of times on my own behalf when I was itching to get out of the dark and cold and into the comfort of my home.

While many might associate lock picking with some sort of nefarious intent, it’s actually a popular hobby or interest for many folks — something akin to enjoying puzzles — and referred to as lock sport.  Often carrying a set of tools is not necessary, as one pick can take care of most basic jobs.

Working to hone his own lock sporting skills, machinist from 23b shop decided to design and 3D print a whole batch of lock picks after watching a friend experiencing one of those creative brainstorming moments — this one involving a zip tie that looked as if it was just waiting to be whittled into a lock pick. Working by hand, his friend was able to make the lock pick work but it quickly became worn out and it was a chore to create the identical pattern each time.

Using the Autotrace toolSpurred on by the fact that his friend’s first rudimentary tool actually worked in picking a lock, machinist was inspired to keep working at his task but he needed to ensure consistency of product.

Machinist was also concerned that his Stratasys Dimension printer was not up to the task of printing these particular items due to the layer thickness of .010 or .013 and dimensional accuracy of +/- .002.” With a .001″ layer thickness and 600 DPI resolution, machinist felt like the Objet 3D printer was the machine for this particular job, and he set to work in making some reliable tools with an Autotrace tool from Solidworks.

lock picksMachinist points out that Autotrace wasn’t perfect but it got the job the done for him with smoothing out the edges. Once printed, it was time to play on a variety of different locks and test out the 3D printed lock picks — with success. They weren’t perfect, as some failed under pressure, but machinist was able to pick locks, and he did have to go back and refine the design, fixing some scaling issues. The goal is to perfect the tools enough so that a mold can be made and a number of these picks can be produced.

The beauty of 3D design is that tweaking and perfecting is simply as easy as going back to the digital design until the desired prototype is achieved. After that, a perfectly consistent product can be manufactured to suit the user’s needs. We look forward to hearing about ‘part two’ from machinist and reporting on his progress with this 3D printed product.

Have you 3D printed anything like these lock picks, just for fun? Tell us about it in the 3D Printed Lock Picking Tools forum over at 3DPB.com.

Picking the lock

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