How to Make a Metal Key With a 3D Printer





Introduction: How to Make a Metal Key With a 3D Printer

About: Electromechanical Engineer, Product Designer, Maker. I love to make prototypes and teach others in the process. I graduated from UCF and spent two years working at NASA.

Have you ever wondered if it was possible to 3D Print a functional key? Well, it is and I can assure you that it works just fine. I would not use it as a main key, but it is great to print a few spare keys to your room, office or house. Save your key on a usb stick or cloud drive and print it anywhere!

Step 1: Download OpenScad 3D Modeling Software

Download OpenScad here for your operating system. If you've never used or heard of OpenScad before, it is a great way to create customizable parametric models. This means that I could give an OpenScad model to someone with zero modeling experience and that can modify it just by changing a few numbers.

Step 2: Create Your Key

First, download the Kwikset KW1 or the Schlage SC1 file depending on the key you want to print. These models were created by Nirav Patel. Open the file in OpenScad and change the last line of the code by entering in the key code of the lock. Your key may have the key code written on the side, but if not you can measure the key cuts and compare the numbers here.

Compile the program and then export the file to an stl that you can print.

Step 3: Print Your Key

If you don't have access to a 3D Printer, you can use 3D Hubs to find a local 3D Printer near you.

Step 4: Cut Your Metal Blank

I have an old manual key cutter I got from a surplus store. If you don't have access to a key cutter, take your plastic key to your local hardware store and they will make a copy for you.

Step 5: Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to read my instructable. I hope you found it useful and informative. If you really liked it, please consider voting for me in the Epilog VIII, 3D Printing, and Arduino contests.

Let me know if you have any questions about my project.


Anthony (Proto G)



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    11 Discussions

    I only see 2 things to download:
    2.Key code sheet.

    What I can't find is the actual openscad file. He sais "Open the file"... Where is "The file"? I'm new to instructables, and if it's in front of me and I can't see it please let me know where to look??? Every project is talking about opening the file; yet I can find the file modifiers and not the file... Very frusterated!

    "First, download the Kwikset KW1 or the Schlage SC1 file depending on the key you want to print. These models were created by Nirav Patel. Open the file in OpenScad and change the last line of the code by entering in the key code of the lock."

    you technically aren't making a metal key with a 3d printer. You are making a plastic key from a 3d printer. The title How to make a metal key with a 3d printer should read how to make a plastic key with a 3d printer as a backup. :)

    why couldn't you just take the original key to the hardware store to get copied instead of printing a key

    2 replies

    Of course you would if you had your key. The point of this is to show you how to keep a digital backup of your key. If you lose your last key, you can print another one.

    PLA will also work as a working key itself. Just use it with care, and make sure it doesn't break inside the lock. For backup use, it's just fine though.

    I totally agree with you that the title, "How to Make a Metal Key With a 3D Printer" is misleading. My first thought was, "Did he use some kind of metal filament in order to print a metal key?" Not saying he intentionally tried to mislead anyone, but it isn't what the title makes it appear to be. "How to make a digital backup copy of a key" would be much more relevant. But some people just can't handle a little constructive criticism very well. No reason to lash out because someone simply suggested the title was a bit misleading. I did waste a few minutes watching the video before figuring out exactly what the intended purpose of the printed key was for. Personally, I don't ever recall having any need for such a key, as I have always had a spare if I lost or broke the original. But this would definitely be useful if you were a maintenance supervisor or held some other similar position that was responsible for making and issuing multiple keys to multiple users of a building. You would always have a digital copy on file to create new keys from.

    1 reply

    Wow, I'm sorry that you wasted a few minutes watching my video that you clearly didn't pay attention to. The very first thing I said was I'm going to print the plastic key and then use that key to make the metal key. "How to make a digital backup copy of a key" is a ridiculous sounding title and less relevant than the one I have. I made a metal key with the help of a 3d printer and that is exactly what the title says. I'm all for criticism of my content and ways I could improve on the process, but complaining about a title adds nothing to a community meant to discuss the process of doing things yourself. Neither one of you have even published an instructable so you wouldn't understand how annoying it is to put a lot of work into something and then see someone complain about something as meaningless as what the title should have been. It's a double edged sword. If the title was "How to make a metal key with electricity, plastic, a computer, a 3d printer, a key cutter, eyes and hands." someone would complain that the title is too long even though it is a bit more accurate than my current title. That being said, I would like to see some projects of your own. Complaining about the title is not constructive criticism as it is very much an opinion and not a factual improvement. Processes and designs can be factually criticized and that is the kind of criticism I look forward to because everyone learns from it. Opinions do not teach anyone anything. You are entitled to your opinion but if nothing useful or positive is being said, what's the point?


    1 year ago

    Okay, Sorry I posted anything.

    I would change the project name to what you wrote on the comments, cool idea tho keep a digital copy of your key

    1 reply

    The title is NOT "3D Printing a Metal Key" I made a metal key using my 3D printer. Merely printing a key isn't something I thought I would ever hear.