Two MIT students, David Lawrence and Eric Van Albert, showed at the Def Con hacker conference last week how to create a 3D printed copy of any Schlage Primus key, and plan to release the software that helped them do it.
After scanning a key using a flatbed scanner their software tool creates the 3D model of the key, and all the hard to replicate security features, which was then sent to Shapeways and i.Materialise for printing.
“In the past if you wanted a Primus key, you had to go through Schlage. Now you just need the information contained in the key, and somewhere to 3D-print it,” said 21-year old Van Albert.
They first printed their keys in nylon for about $5 each, but a more durable copy in titanium cost them $150 from i.Materialise. This did not impress the 3D printing service who have issued a statement shortly after Def Con that they do not support 3D printing of security keys.
“i.materialise rejects any use of its services to promote activities or to create products which pose a safety or security risk to others.” i.Materialise’s statement continued, “…when using i.materialise’s services, our customers confirm that their designs are original and do not violate another designer’s or inventor’s rights. In this case, David Lawrence and Eric Van Albert gave no indication that their key design was in fact an unauthorized copy of a Schlage Primus key.”
The Schlage Primus keys and locks are extremely secure and are used extensively in apartment buildings, civil and municipal buildings, and private businesses. The Primus key features two tracks of teeth, one with six teeth on the top and another of 5 pins on the side of the key, which correspond to sets of pins in a lock.
Lawrence and Van Albert learned to decipher these two distinct codes in these teeth, the one set of six numbers cut into the top of the key and another set of five in its sidecut, that can be programmed into their 3D modeling software to precisely reproduce a key.
The MIT students are keen to point out that the software only lets them copy an existing key, not magically create a key to open any lock. You don’t even need the physical key in your possession to copy it, as it has already been shown that a photo of a key is all that is needed.
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