Custom Engraving With Kaba Ilco's New Engrave-It XP

The use of an engraving machine provides the capability to visually identify lock cylinders, interchangeable cores and key blanks. Identifying them can be especially beneficial when originating, installing and servicing masterkey systems. Other opportunities include having your company name incised into key blanks or providing promotional services. The engraved information provides a near permanent record. Should additional information be required or needed by the end user such as door or user numbers, that data can be engraved into a variety of key tags that can be permanently attached to the keys using tamper-proof key rings.

The new Engrave-It XP is the third engraving machine available from Ilco, joining the Engrave-It and the Engrave-It Pro. The mid-level Engrave-It XP is a desktop machine that operates in conjunction with a Windows-based personal computer to engrave letters, numbers and designs into aluminum, brass, plastic, wood and other soft and hard materials. Vision software is loaded into the computer using the provided USB flash drive/dongle. The software is partially icon-driven, making it easier to follow the steps required to engrave. The software does not require Internet access to operate.

Important: The dongle must be installed into the computer in order to operate the Engrave-It XP using the Vision software.

This small footprint machine requires approximately two square feet of counter space. Like the more expensive engravers, the Engrave-It XP can operate using a “diamond drag” method of incising. For certain applications, the XP can also engrave using the rotary cutter method. Both methods provide a table resolution of 0.0002” for letters, number and graphics. This is the smallest controlled motion for the engraver.

The Engrave-It XP comes with more than 1,100 fonts and 5,000 pieces of clip art. Fonts are automatically resized to fit the surface area of the object being engraved. The software is designed to enable manual adjustment of the letters or numbers to create a desired affect.

The Engrave-It XP spindle moves side to side and up and down. The six-inch by eight-inch aluminum T-slot table moves forward and back. The combined movements create the images, letters or numbers being engraved.

The process can be for single or multiple items. Items to be engraved are placed onto either specifically designed holders or a multi-mat. Specially designed holders can be used for key blanks, cores or lock cylinders. Custom built holders are available. For more information, contact Ilco. Key blank holders can engrave up to 12 blanks having the same or different information.

Note: The software is capable of engraving sequentially numbered items.

The Engrave-It XP operates at speeds up to three inches per second using diamond drag or rotary engraving methods. The diamond drag method of engraving, also known as “scratch” engraving, is used on metals such as brass, aluminum, pewter, etc. The diamond graver tool has an imbedded conical pointed diamond that moves in a fixed position across the surface being engraved. Diamond gravers have different tip angles for the material being engraved. The softer the material, the wider the angle needed. Diamond-drag engraving is usually used to remove the color coating exposing the base metal underneath providing a brilliant finish.

The Engrave-It XP’s motorized spindle rotates when a rotary cutter is engraving. The process is similar to routing and produces cuts of specified widths and depths in a wide variety of materials. Rotary engraving uses a single or multiple fluted cutter that rotates and plunges to remove material creating the engraving. Rotary engraving can make deep cuts or completely cutout portions of the material. Rotary engraving can achieve the three-dimensional look.

To ensure the desired output will be attained, a built-in job preview (dry run) mimics the engraving process. A red laser tracking pointer system provides a visual of the graver’s movements.

To engrave keys, a holder designed for the manufacturers’ bow and blade is purchased. The holder is specially manufactured such that each bay secures the key blank in the exact position. Each key blank is located against a spring mechanism within the bow opening.

For our purposes, we will engrave three Ilco 1145/SC1 key blanks using the holder designed to engrave up to 12.

For this article, the Engrave-It XP has prepared files for engraving different key blanks, interchangeable cores and tags. One of the provided holders is the EIP-KSC1-00-XP, which is used to engrave the Ilco SC1 key blanks using the Vision software file KSC1-XP.CDL. A window that appears will show the page view of the holder. To have same words used for each of the key blanks, press the multiple icon on the screen. A text substitution option eliminates the need to type the same text for each key blank. If the keys are to be numbered sequentially, there is no need to enter each number. Once the commands have been entered, a window appears with the names in the bow of each of the key blanks.

Install the key blanks into the holder and the holder onto the table. The holder has two “T’s” that secure the holder onto the table. Press the engrave icon. When the cut toolbox appears, make sure the appropriate material and device are selected. If you want to use the job preview, make sure the “D” (which stands for dry run) is not crossed out. Press the engrave icon. Press the green arrow button on the Engrave-It XP machine. The red laser will illuminate and the table will move showing exactly where each engraving will appear. If you are satisfied, the job is ready to be started.

Note: When engraving, make sure the “D” is crossed out and press the engrave icon.

Press the arrow in the green button and the diamond drag graver will engrave the key blanks, one at a time. When finished, remove the key blanks. If cutting more than one set of keys, install new key blanks. Press the green arrow button on the machine to engrave additional key blanks having the same engravings. If engraving key blanks with serialization continuing, repeat the necessary steps to continue the serialization.

At any time, you can stop engraving and return to start by pressing the pause button on the face of the Engrave-It XP twice.

A number of video tutorials provide step-by-step information on using different engraving methods. The first is Video Express Video Tutorials #1 Diamond Drag Engraving.

The Engrave-It Pro comes with a solid carbide cutter, two diamond tip cutters, quick lock vise and a 6” x 8” multi-mat. The carbide rotary cutter is designed to engrave plastics, acrylics and wood. A USB memory stick/dongle contains the Engrave-It XP software, installation guide, videos, tutorial and operators manual.

At this time, five key holders, two interchangeable core holders and one pet tag and metal plates holder are available for the Engrave-It XP machine. They are:

  • Ilco SC1/SC4 key style: Ilco Part # XP-KH1, holds 12 key blanks
  • Best/Ilco traditional head IC key: Ilco Part # XP-KH2, holds 12 key blanks
  • Ilco Neuter Bow non-embossed head*: Ilco Part # XP-KH3, holds 12 key blanks
  • Schlage Everest Primus key head style: Ilco Part #XP-KH4, holds 12 key blanks
  • Large Square head Medeco/Keymark/Keymark X4 : Ilco Part #XP-KH5, holds 12 key blanks
  • 7 pin Best style IC cores: Ilco Part #XP-Holder-2, holds 12 cores
  • 6 pin Best style IC cores: Ilco Part # XP-Holder-3, holds 15 cores
  • Pet tags and metal plates, Ilco Part # XP-Holder-11, holds 17 different items

The key holders will accommodate five-, six- and seven-pin key blanks where applicable.

*The Ilco Neuter bow non-embossed head will accommodate all of the keyways available from Ilco for the neuter bow key.

The warranty for the Engrave-It XP is one year from date of shipment to the original purchaser.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or Kaba Ilco Corp., 400 Jeffreys Road, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Telephone: 800-334-1381. Web Site: