The University of Michigan has developed a programme called KeysForge that, on paper, looks like it kicks open the door for a burglar-friendly dystopian future.

With Keysforge, users can apparently create a 3D printable file of a key to fit any lock or keyhole that they’ve taken a picture of. Yes, you read that correctly.

Before you invest in a vault door for your home, it’s worth noting that, In a paper for the Workshop On Offensive Technology (WOOT), the creators explain that their creation doesn’t create a perfect, functional key, but rather a blank that can be used to speed up the process of breaking in.

These blanks are not sold to the general public, and are heavily patented to dissuade machinists from making and selling them. KeysForge allows this to be circumvented.

The second half of this study looks at the printed keys and how reliable they are when compared to traditional materials. As one may expect, plastic isn’t always the best replacement for metal, but the tests carried out so far have been promising, both in terms of usability and price:

Not only is the full paper available online for anyone to read, but you can actually try this technology out yourself. The code for the project is available on Github, but you can get your own keys without any programming knowledge at all.

On the official KeysForge site, there is a demo area where you can upload a photo and the site will spit out a CAD file for you to look at, download and eventually print.

The demo can get complex.
The demo can get complex.

If you’re perturbed by the fact that this tool exists, and is available through a few clicks, remember that a key blank still requires a lot of work to turn into a tool that someone can use to break into your house. The  creators think the project could aid the less criminally-minded too:

While it is possible that this website will aid attackers, we believe there is greater benefit in demonstrating to both lock designers and the public just how inexpensive these attacks are with modern tools. In addition, allowing a larger audience to use the tool may help defenders discover particular features of keyways that make them difficult to produce with this method, further assisting lock designers that want to defend against this technology.

[Source – KeysForge]