And 3D printing has already been used, by Jos Weyers and Christian Holler to 3D print “bump” keys which can be inserted into nearly any lock and given a “bump” to engage the tumblers and open the lock.
Fortunately, Weyers and Holler are engineers and security consultants, but their demonstration shows the technology of breaking and entering, via software called Photobump, has taken a great leap forward.
But fear not. For every person working on ways to defeat locks, there are teams working to toughen them up against intrusion. Alejandro Ojeda is the co-founder of UrbanAlps and he and his company have recently unveiled The Stealth Key. It’s an additively manufactured security key they say solves the problem of 3D scanned and printed lockpicking.
Ojeda and Dr. Felix Reinert say they’ve developed a range of cylinder locks and keys based on their Stealth Key concept. They say the keys are un-scannable and cannot be copied. They also call their solution “the simplest and most affordable key copy protection available.”
It works like this: the key hides most of its mechanical security features internally, thus rendering the key unscannable.
The company the pair formed, UrbanAlps, is a high-tech startup based in Switzerland, and they say they’re confident they’ve done no less than develop a new standard of high security cylinder-locks and keys.
Ojeda, a native of the Canary Islands in Spain, says he lives by the motto “control your destiny or someone else will.” He’s a mechanical engineer with a pair of Masters degrees with more than 5 years of industrial experience at R&D departments as project manager for advanced laser processes and 3D scanning.
Reinert, the co-founder and CTO of UrbanAlps, is a Swiss citizen with a PhD in laser physics with 7 years experience in novel manufacturing technologies.
The pair say it was the moment they saw a simple key scanned and used to open a standard lock that inspired them to create their Stealth Key system. They add that they personally used an Ultimaker 3D printer – among others – to print existing keys.
“For centuries mechanical keys have relied on external features,” Ojeda says. “Today, thanks to additive manufacturing, we place those features inside. Unlike electronic combinations, the Stealth key is the affordable solution to the lost sense of security of key duplication. In addition, the possibilities are beyond the key itself: it opens the door to mass-customization, near-zero waste material, bringing manufacturing back to Europe, reduced factory layoffs.”
While their current products are based on the Swiss cylinder profile and the European profile, they plan to adapt the Stealth Key to additional markets and profiles in the near term. They add that their solution is “in a similar price range” to current systems and that they plan to do a product launch – via a Kickstarter campaign – sometime this year. Their hope is to have the system in place in some European countries by 2016.
Can you see an idea like the Stealth Key from UrbanAlps changing the way lock-based security systems function? Think you could crack their “unscannable” system? Let us know in the UrbanAlps Stealth Key forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below highlighting the Stealth Key’s advantages in the face of what UrbanAlps calls the “3D printing threat” of scan-and-print keys.