The key blank is placed into an indexing vise that moves from space-to-space each time the handle is pressed down. The depth of cut determines the position of the punch in relation to the base of the blade. Depending upon the manufacturer, the depth of cut is controlled by a rotating knob or a code bar. When a cut is made, the keypunch machine must remove excess material between cuts. If there are excessive lips or peaks, this can result in the key having difficulty sliding into or out of the lock.
Some punch machines are dedicated, able to originate keys for a specific set of depths and spaces such as the interchangeable core A2 system or specific key system of a lock manufacturer. These include the Pro-Lok Blue Punch Machines. Others have interchangeable components and are capable of originating keys for multiple locks and lock manufacturers. The A1 Mean Green Machine and Pak-A-Punch, and the Rytan RY2000 and “Card Type” punch machines are examples.
Keypunch machines use different methods to ensure proper spacing of the self-indexing vises. The A1 Pak-A-Punch uses a ball detent to set the spacing. The Rytan RY2000 use a sliding space bar that indexes to the next step each time a cut is made. Some machines use a punch holder with an alignment pin and holes in the die carriage into which the pin must first enter for each cut.
For masterkey jobs, using a key originating machine, either rotary cutter or key punch, ensures the keys will meet manufacturer’s specifications and provide your customers with smooth operating keys.