Aug. 26, 2014

It costs you quite some time and money If you lose your key or it is stolen. Fortunately there are some alternatives that could help you. Digital key storage startup KeyMe launched a new 3D key printing service back in December 2013 which lets users scan and store digital copies of their keys in the cloud and create duplicate copies anytime they need them.

With 3D printing, it is possible for anyone to duplicate a key without going out to a hardware store. Recently lockpickers Jos Weyers and Christian Holler unveiled their technique to take 3D printed key to the next level: they can 3D print a "bump" key in plastic that opens any pin tumbler locks in seconds.

Weyers and Holler's trick is to 3D print a "bump" key only using software they created called Photobump, a photo of the keyway and the manufacturer specific details about the lock series.

This 3D printed 'bumy' can easily open a wide range of locks. "You don't need much more to make a bump key," said Weyers at the Hackers On Planet Earth conference last month. "Basically, if I can see your keyhole, there's an app for that."

Watch the video below that demonstrates a plastic bump key for the ABUS E20/E30 6-pin tumbler lock. This key is 3D printed as it is.

When bumping a lock, the key is initially inserted into the keyway one notch (pin) short of full insertion. Bumping the key inward forces it deeper into the keyway. The specially designed teeth of the bump key transmit a slight impact force to all of the bottom pins in the lock. The key pins transmit this force to the driver pins; the key pins stay in place. Because the pin movements are highly elastic, the driver pins "jump" from the key pins for a fraction of a second, moving higher than the cylinder (shear line of the tumbler), then are pushed normally back by the spring to sit against the key pins once again. Even though this separation only lasts a split second, if a light rotational force is continuously applied to the key during the slight impact, the cylinder will turn during the short separation time of the key and driver pins, and the lock can be opened while the driver pins are elevated above the keyway. - Wikipedia

Lock bumping is an effective way to open over 90% cylinder type locks and it takes only an instant to open the lock.

Holler said that the manufacturer specific details about the lock series are easy to obtain, since the major key blank manufacturers provide software including large databases that list all the specific characteristics per manufacturer and system.

From that information, Weyers and Holler can create a 3D model of the requested bump key using their own software "Photobump". The 3D model can then be manufactured through 3D printing.

Weyers says that his technique wouldn't even require knowing the lock's make or model. "I'm working under the presumption I'm starting with zero knowledge of the lock," says Weyers.

Weyers and Holler told Wired that they aren't trying to teach thieves and spies a new trick for breaking into high-security facilities; instead, they want to warn lockmakers about the possibility of 3D printable bump keys so they might defend against it. And they don't plan to release the Photobump software publicly.

While many lock makers rely on their keys' restricted shapes, or their "key profile", the two lockpickers say they're trying show people that "3D printing has changed lockpicking in ways that may leave previously secure locks vulnerable." "It's a kind of false sense of security," says Holler. "If a protected profile is your only protection, you should be aware that's no longer enough."


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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