3-D Printed Skeleton Key Can Open Almost Any Lock in Seconds
- By Ginger Hill
- Sep 03, 2014
So, last year, all the rage around 3-D printing was the 3-D printed gun. Now we welcome the 3-D printed skeleton key! Whether made from plastic or metal, this key that can unlock high-security locks in seconds. The trick is to print a “bump” key with a 3-D printer.
The term “bumping” isn’t new and refers to filling a key blank into a set of teeth that rest against each of the pins in a pin and tumbler lock. When this key, the bump key, is tapped with a hammer, those teeth actually bump the pins, causing them to move. The bottom portion stays put, while the top halves of the pins jump just a few millimeters. A skilled lock picker can catch those jumping pins outside the lock’s cylinder and open the lock.
Using this same principle, German engineers Jos Weyers and Christian Holler created software called Photobump in which they say it is possible to bump open a wide range of locks using keys based on photographs of the locks’ keyholes.
According to Weyers, the only tools needed to pick a lock are: software, a picture of the lock’s keyhole and the depth of the keyhole.
Don’t have a 3-D printer? Not to worry, because bump keys can be mail-ordered from 3-D printing services, such as Shapeways, which has no restrictions on printing keys.
Ginger Hill is Group Social Media Manager.