A Key Duplicator Machine’s Essentials
- Locksmith Industry News
- 17 Mar, 2022
What is a Key Duplicator Machine?
You lost your key and you don’t have any duplicate key with you. So, you look for a key duplicator machine in your area. A locksmith takes your key and does the duplication through a key duplicator machine. The very first mechanical key duplicating machine was invented in 1917 in the United States. This invention has led to its proliferation during the 20th century. The basic function of this machine is to duplicate rapidly a flat metal key. Its duplicating process is estimated to be completed in one minute! Amazing! Is it? Different key cutting machines have been developed from the basic to the sophisticated machines such as the automated ones. The machines use different equipment and takes after its predecessor of the early 20th century designs.
In 1978, the Rekord, a key machine, cuts codes using metal templates. Back then, the process was complicated. But Curtis Clipper invented the “Curtis Key Clipper” during this period. This hand tool allowed the cutting of car keys by code. The code templates were inserted into the tool. This key duplicator machine looked like a smaller version of a blanking die which is used in presses.
How does a Key Duplicator Machine Work?
Key duplication is the process of duplicating a key using an existing key which is the primary method of key “shaping by removing material.” Thus, the process below is done as basics:
- Place the flat key into the vise with a blank attached to a parallel vise.
- The original key along the guide, moves and the blank key moves against a blade to cut it.
- After cutting, remove the burrs by brushing or scrubbing with a wire brush. This is either built-in in the machine or through a bench grinder.
Consequently, keys are duplicated through the following procedure using the Curtis Key Clipper:
- Measure the depth of each notch with a gauge.
- Place the key into a device with a numeric slider.
- Adjust the slider to match the corresponding measured depth.
- Press the lever which cuts the entire notch at once.
- Raising the lever, automatically progresses to the next indexed position and the slider adjusts to the next measured depth.
- Continue the cycle from steps 1-5 until the key is complete.
The above procedure requires a trained locksmith or a professional key cutter to administer due to its labor complication. Moreover, codes or online resources such as the code stamp on the lock may also be found in the product manual and the VIN (Bianchi, 2016).
What are the different key duplicator machines?
- Manual Key Cut Machine
You find these machines in local home improvement stores. This machine is not as accurate as the other machines. But it works well with house keys. The locksmith places in a clamp the original key and the key to be cut on top of each other. Next, he traces the profile on the key. Lastly, the machine cuts the new key to match the shape and the notches of the original key.
- Automatic and semi-automatic machines
These machines do most of the work of cutting and less manual work. The locksmith places the original key on a vice grip while the blank key will be placed on another. As the machine works using a stylus to trace the shape of the original key, the action is also done on the duplicate key copying the profile of the original key. Once the tracing is done, the cut edges are polished to remove the metal spurs and rough edges (Kietzman, 2022).
This machine works similarly as the automatic machine. But this machine uses lasers to cut instead of a blade. This machine is more accurate than the other types. This cutting machine has appeared in 1990’s onward. A laser cut key is highly secured. It is harder for thieves to unlock since it needs a special equipment for it to be duplicated.
Moreover, laser cut keys are equipped with transponder chip system. This chip system is programmed to a specific car. Thus, a car won’t start once the right transponder chip is not in the vicinity of the receiver. High-end vehicles are equipped with this security feature.
- Code Cutting Machine
This machine uses codes as specifications and parameters of the original key to be able to cut the blank key and produce the duplicate. The codes are being input either manually or through a code card similar to a credit card which keeps the details of notches for cutting on the key.
- Skeleton Key Machine
This machine copies those old-fashioned looking keys. It measures the depth of the key’s end, then cuts a duplicate to match. This key is known as a pass key in North America which is a type of master key. It is reduced to its essential parts by removing the serrated edge to open multiple locks. In addition, it is called a skeleton key to describe a key that is capable of opening numerous locks (Steve, 2020).
- Tubular Machine
This machine duplicates a tube shape key. It requires a skilled locksmith to operate this machine. It works by tracing the shape of the key to duplicate the specifications of notches in the end of the tube. The machine features the following functions (lockpicks, 2022).
- Duplicates mid-size 7 and 8 cut tubular keys
- Covers and protects the machine during the cutting process
- Provides accurate key duplication results
- Lasts for solid performance
Knowing about what a key duplicator machine is, how it works, and the different key duplicator machines, equips you to operate as a locksmith. However, if you need to have quality, lasting, and polished duplicates, you may seek the help of a professional locksmith to help you out in duplicating your much needed keys. Lastly, a locksmith may not be able to do it as speedy as a machine does, but with the combination of human ability and machine capability, key duplicate perfection is achieved.