May 27, 2015 | By Simon

Considering the incredible amount of ‘good’ that has come from the increase in accessibility to 3D printers - ranging from low-cost prosthetic devices to the ability to create products on demand without shipping products around the world - it’s difficult to think that there are ways that the technology has been used for the ‘bad’.  Among other things, using the technology to fabricate keys for gaining entry into locked areas.

While it still takes a considerable amount of work, users who are motivated enough can create a 3D model of somebody’s key with little more than a smartphone photograph which can be used as a reference for creating a new 3D printable file.  So long as a sturdy material was used, somebody will be able to gain entry as if they had an exact copy of the original key.  Now, a new company based out of Switzerland wants to change all of that and they’re doing so by creating their own key design using additive manufacturing.  

Established by innovators Alejandro Ojeda and Dr. Felix Reinert - who both have extensive experience in design, engineering and technology applications - UrbanAlps was founded with the goal of creating next-generation security keys that cannot be copied … even with today’s advanced 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies.

To reinforce their argument about today’s 3D printed being able to print usable keys, the company even recreated a range of existing key designs using a common desktop 3D printer - an Ultimaker - and were successfully able to replicate keys that were usable using standard filaments.  

The company’s answer to today’s flawed lock securities? The Stealth Key.  

“For centuries mechanical keys have relied on external features.” Ojeda told 3Ders.  

“Today, thanks to additive manufacturing, we place the features inside.  Unlike electronic combinations, the Stealth key is the affordable solution to the lost sense of security of key duplication.”

By hiding the security features inside of a key rather than the outside, the metal key is essentially rendered unscannable and would be difficult to produce with any other method than additive manufacturing using the company’s unique design and fabrication process. "It is a purely mechanical solution that is very hard to copy. It uses no magnets and no electronics." UrbanAlps notes. Additionally, the 3D printed keys present a new opportunity for key manufacturing.  Among others, it opens the door for mass customization since the keys are already being manufactured on a per-order basis anyways.  It also reduces the amount of waste material to near-zero while also bringing manufacturing closer to communities.

The company has been testing the 3D printed keys over the past two years and have been pushing hard to develop the first of its kind security system - ultimately aiming to set a new standard in the realm of high security; in addition to the key itself, the company has also designed a range of cylinder locks based on the Stealth Key concept.

For those interested in purchasing one of the Stealth keys, the company is proud to say that they have managed to develop a security system that is priced very similar to today's existing lock and key combination systems. UrbanAlps is planning on launching the product later this year and is considering a Kickstarter campaign to get the ball rolling.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


Maybe you also like:


Chris J. wrote at 6/2/2015 9:36:47 AM:

I'm with Yobov. I quick curing silicon or soft plastic can be squirted in and pulled out. Basically the same way vinyl toys are made.

Chris J. wrote at 6/2/2015 9:33:56 AM:

I'm with Yobov. I quick curing silicon or soft plastic can be squirted in and pulled out. Basically the same way vinyl toys are made.

yobov wrote at 5/29/2015 10:00:20 PM:

They say it's inaccessible to clay, but what if you fill the thing up with silicone that is soft enough to deform on the way out? What about making a thin strip of LEDs and photodiodes you can jam into the key to scan the thing? I'm also willing to bet that the key can leak information about it's insides because laser sintering is never perfect. The areas of the key with grooves in them are probably curve in just a little bit.

Andrew wrote at 5/28/2015 4:44:55 PM:

Would a CT Scan not be able to Reverse engineer this?

Bad Bob wrote at 5/28/2015 12:42:25 PM:

Can I have a key to copy ?

AMnerd wrote at 5/28/2015 12:14:21 PM:

Only works with inferior Central European keys that are not secure to begin with

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive