Jan. 1, 2009
A busy shop can quickly originate keys from lock manufacturer to lock manufacturer by simply replacing a code card.

HPC introduced the 1200CM code machine decades ago and it still remains the workhorse for a good percentage of locksmiths. The original 1200CM machine was upgraded with different gearing. One revolution of the crank handle now moves the vise jaw a greater distance which speeds up the key cutting process. The 1200CM became the 1200CMB (B for Blitz). A recent innovation added a key duplicating feature. The new machine became the 1200CMSB (SB for Switch Blitz). Information in this article is identical for any 1200CM-based model.

A primary virtue of any of the 1200CM models is that a busy shop can quickly originate keys from lock manufacturer to lock manufacturer by simply replacing a code card. Code cards form the heart of the 1200CM machine. Each code card contains individual markings which indicate the exact depth and space locations for a specific key blank or group of key blanks.

Helpful information is printed on each card. In most cases no machine changes are necessary when replacing cards. When switching from making cuts on a large key to making cuts on a smaller key, it may be necessary to change the jaw or cutter blade. Jaw or cutter blade changes can be done in seconds and the machine does not require recalibration. Each code card shows the proper jaw and cutter blade to use.
Most key originating can be completed by using either the 1011 cutter or the 14MC cutter. The 1011 cutter has 90-degree cutting angle and is usually best for cutting small wafer tumbler keys. The 14MC cutter has a 100-degree cutting angle and is normally used for cutting larger pin tumbler keys. Several special cutters are also available for cutting high security keys, flat steel keys and keys with starting cuts very close to the shoulder stop.

1200CM code machines made before January 2004 included a deck of 120 code cards. Since that time 1200CM code machines include a deck of 150 cards. Code cards cover a wide range lock types from automotive to commercial building keys. A make-up deck of 30 cards is available so older 1200CM machines can be upgraded to the newer 150-card deck.

In addition to the 150 code cards, HPC has a limited amount of specialty cards for safe deposit work, .015 increment depths for masterkeying and several cards for foreign commercial locks such as Assa and Dom. 

New lock systems, both domestic and foreign, are appearing in the marketplace on a regular basis. Eight special cards are included in the 150 deck which are called micrometer cards. If no dedicated card is available, and the depth/space measurements are known, micrometer cards can be used to originate a key. While micrometer cards are good for temporary usage, these cards usually provide only a close approximation to the exact depth or space.

A “140” rule can be used to roughly determine the cutter and Jaw for micrometer cards. If spacing is less than .140 cut-to-cut then use the 1011 cutter. If the spacing is more than .140 cut-to-cut then use the 14MC cutter. If the deepest depth is less than .140, then use Jaw B. If the deepest depth is more than .140, then use Jaw A. Separate Micrometer cards are designed for use with Jaw A or Jaw B.

HPC has developed Cardware, a computer program which allows locksmiths to print their own 1200CM cards. Cardware is Windows-based and the owner's PC must have a printer connected.
Cardware can be used two ways. If you know the code series, the code can be entered on the computer screen. Cardware will display the depth and spaces used by the series, and that information can be automatically used to print out a code card. The whole process can be completed in one or two minutes. Once code card printing is finished, the card can be cut out of the printer paper and immediately inserted into the 1200CM for use. 

A second option can be used if no code information is available. A special screen is displayed and the locksmith can individually enter depth and space information into the computer. Once the depth and space information is entered, the Cardware program will quickly print out a code card. This new depth and space information can be saved in the Cardware program for future use.
New automotive, cabinet and commercial lock systems are appearing at a rapid pace. Codeware provides a system for servicing these new lock systems quickly and accurately. HPC also has a 1200PCH punch machine which uses similar code cards. HPC Codeware can be set to make new cards for either the standard 1200CMB or the punch machine.

For more information on Cardware, contact your local HPC locksmith distributor or source