by colah May 11, 2011
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This thing was created in 2011?!?!?!?

I had trouble with the parts bending and breaking too easily.

Do anyone happen to know where can a buy a professional lock pick ?

I know this is over a year ood but amazon has them

Aww. This brings back Memories. We used spring steel from street cleaner brushes for both pick and wrench. One of the troubles with that design was that the pick itself was quite narrow, which made it a little difficult to manipulate up and down around the keyway inside the lock. I gave some thought to makin' handles for my picks ( professional ones have nice riveted steel plates, sort of like knives). Betcha that a printed handle with a business end made of steel would make for a kickin' tool. Hmm. Maybes this weekend.

I spoke at some length with Schuyler Towne at openlocksport about the possibility of taking a photo of a key and printing it. Here's a first attempt I made - haven't gotten back to it.


It didn't work, but I see no reason it shouldn't, in theory. The PLA is plenty strong enough to act as a key at the required thickness. Schuyler suggested following on the work of some university students who've already got an
algorithm worked out, which utilizes a database of key manufacturer's specs to make sure the end product is correct.

In illinois, as of this year, it's illegal to buy, sell, trade, or give lockpicks. I wonder if this design tests the law?

The torsion wrench may have bent slightly, but not much. On the other hand, one of the reasons I chose to use that lock for the test was that I didn't need much torque... Also, that it was one of our teaching ones and trivial to pick -- I'm not great at lockcraft, even before a handycap of bad picks. :-D

Regarding printing keys, it has been successfully done:

Regarding Illinois law, IANAL, but designs for picks isn't the same as the real thing. So I'm probably OK. It's also not on my list of places to visit in the near future, thankfully, so I won't have to test that. :

Does it bend when you grip the handle and press against a table with the tip of it?

The thin section created by the 2 long pins may act as a spring.

How accurate are the dimensions when you compare it with the original key?


I did this a few weeks ago, hoping it would Just Work in time for me to attend the Chicago hacker's conference (thotcon) and show it off - I was obligated for other reasons to demo the ToM there and had hoped I could make it relevant.

Unfortunately, I only ended up with time for the one test
you see here.

I can't answer your first question, but I would imagine it would bend.

For your second, the dimensions seemed spot-on and when I put it into the lock there wa a definite point where it 'clicked in'. It might have been the case that the particular lock I was trying just required
too much torque - it happens to be a lock I've also been unable to pick manually, so a horrible choice for this test.

If it had worked a little better, I would have intended to print it as a complete key, not just the little shim you see here, so it would have been much stiffer and easier to use.

Also just worth mentioning - for every print in my life, I've used .4mm layers, except this one, where I lowered it. I can't recall exactly, but I think it was .25mm.

The lock on the photo has a very straight opening.

I'm not sure most of us can print the half-diamond thin enough to be of much use.

Considering that you usualy use thin spring-steel for the picks.

As far as printing a spanner goes...3 seconds and a used up windshield-wiper already gets you the best spanner you can have.
It's good work but I just don't think that a 3d printer is the right tool for this application and that
other tools are better for this job.

You could use this key to make an impression that you could cast a new key from. hardly the incorrect tool for the job

Interesting idea.

I'm not exactly convinced that would make a better pick then using 15 minutes, a dremel and a sheet of good quality steel but interesting.

The other commenters sum up most of my thoughts.

I didn't print them because I expected to print awesome picks. I printed them because I thought it would be awesome to print picks.

Marcus -- a 3D printer is ALWAYS the right tool for the job, no matter what it is.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm making waffles for breakfast and I think my extruder has jammed up with batter.

You're supposed to use the frostruder for stuff like that, not the plastruder/stepstruder!!

I've seen a few comments on Thingiverse to this same affect: Not sure a 3d printer is the right tool...

I think of it like this. I use my 3D printer to do prototyping. Once I have a model that I like, I might turn to a manufacturer or shapeways to get the thing rendered in a more appropriate material than deposited plastic.

So, I think having the design out there is great. Perhaps someone will c
ome along with a high power laser cutter, or a punch, or something, and they can use the design.

Or someone could use the STL to print in metal using SLS. There's no reason someone is limited to printing in plastic.

How well do printed metal parts bend and how much force do they withstand ?

From my understanding of the process they are quite rigid but brittle and not springy at all.

The tip of the spanner is 1mm thick and we are talking about a 55mm lever with a constant and considerable pressure applied to the very end of that lever

as well as a small but noticeable additional force every time a pin sets .

Could be interesting to get some numbers on usual materials from a commercial printer here.

I measured the half-diamond and got 1mm o thickness.
Sounds like pretty much for a lockpick. I'll compare it to my own ones, when I'm back tomorrow but from the top of my head I'd guess that 0.5mm is a more realistic value.
Does anyone have a set of HPC or other good picks at hand to compare?