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article imageIncredible 3-D printed keys that can unlock almost anything

By Tim Sandle     Sep 1, 2014 in Technology
Technologists have utilized 3-D printing technology to produce "bump keys". These are keys capable of opening millions of locks.
The incredible thing about the 3-D printed keys is that the original keys are not required for the templates. Instead, Wired reports, engineers can simply produce a range of keys that can open any standard lock. The keys are created using a newly designed software package called software Photobump.
The software requires only a picture of the lock in question and some basic information, such as lock’s depth. Once this information is programmed in a ‘bump’ key is produced. 3-D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes
Trials have shown that the keys produced can pick even the most sophisticated of security locks. The term "bump key" is an old one; it refers to the technique of "bumping", which involves inserting a key into a standard lock and using a hammer to then knock the lock’s pins into place.
The software was put on display at the recent "Hackers On Planet Earth" conference in New York City. The technology was designed by engineers Jos Weyers and Christian Holler.
One worrying thing arising from the 3-D printing software is the risk of criminals ordering keys for burgling homes and businesses. In theory, aspiring lockpickers can order their ‘bump’ key from online 3-D printing services. This has promoted some to question the wisdom of designing such software. However, on the other hand, the technology promises a low-cost means of mass producing keys.
One of the inventors, Jos Weyers, told The Independent that bump key proof locks are available. He argues that lock makers should be producing more modern locks, with electronic or unprintable parts: “The sky isn’t falling, but the world changes and now people can make stuff. Lock manufacturers know how to make a lock bump-resistant. And they had better.”
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