Best of 2018: Advances In Code Machines

Dec. 3, 2018
Engraving functions added to automated code machines

In the beginning locksmiths only had a choice of depth/space keys or hand filing when originating a key. The next development was markings on the key blanks. Briggs and Stratton sold a key machine in the 1930s dedicated for originating B&S wafer keys. Special key blanks which had horizontal lines on the key blanks denoting the five B&S wafer depths. Yale made a dedicated code machine made for originating Chrysler Omega keys.

During the same period of time Ilco began offering a universal key machine for originating all popular types of commercial and automotive keys by depth and spaces. This machine used large metal discs with holes placed as necessary to set the vise jaw at the proper spacing. A second metal disc contained correct depths for any given lock manufacturer. Locksmiths could set the correct spacing and then use a depth lever to move the key into the cutter until the required depth was reached. During the period of 1945 to 1985, other companies followed the lead of Ilco and offered new versions of manually operated code machines.

In approximately 1979 Mercedes introduced the first laser cut keys. This event caused key machine manufacturers to develop automated code machines and a new era was born.

Early versions of automated code machines were dedicated for cutting either flat keys or laser cut keys. Laser-cut keys require a vertical cutter wile standard flat keys require a cutter mounted on a horizontal shaft.

Not many years ago a company called Laser Key Products introduced a key machine which contained both vertical and horizontal cutters. This allowed that machine to originate both laser and flat type keys. Many other popular key machine manufacturers have now followed with their own versions of dual shaft machines. Adaptors are available for most of these machines for originating not only flat keys and laser keys but also for originating Tibbe, dimple, tubular and cruciform keys.

The next logical step is for automated code machines to be able to engrave. Automated code machine movement is controlled by stepper motors, so engraving is only an extension of the horizontal movement already built into every automated machine. The only difference is the addition of software to control printing. Keybow marking is especially important for institutions where a large number of different key combinations are in use.

Key originating requires sturdy machine components. Engraving exerts less stress on machine components since the engraving cutter only lightly touches the key blank surface for marking. Some imported code machines are actually converted from engraving machines. This may explain the price difference between light duty converted engraving machines and heavy duty code machines as sold by well known manufacturers.

Kaba Ilco Futura & Futura Pro

Two special engraving jaws can hold a wide array of keys, medallions and plates. Three step jaw design holds 1.26" X 1.57", 1.02" X 1.57" & .55" X 1.57" flat stock. Both metal and aluminum can be engraved using the Ilco 18DW cutter blade. Over 220 default templates are included. These templates identify the area for inserting text. A user model editor can be used to customize an existing template to create new templates. New templates can be saved for future use. Job queues can be set up: simply set up specific engraving parameters for beginning the engraving process and place it in the job queue for engraving at a later time. Engraving software is FREE and will automatically load when performing a Futura or Futura Pro update.

Hudson/HPC TigerSHARK2

Optional TS2-ENGRAVEJAW allows engraving on keybows or metal tags. Engrave your company name, phone number or key description. You can even load an image and load your log onto a key blank. Special engraving bit is included with the TS2 -ENGRAVEJAW kit. Perfect addition to the TigerSHARK2 machine when combinating master key systems. Mark keys for easy identification and for a professional presentation to your customer. A further interesting feature is the built-in rotating head for automatically originating Medeco keys.

Keyline Ninja Vortex

Ninja Vortex is designed to engrave the heads of high security, dimple and laser keys. Three axis in the machine, combined with a wide database of information, allow the personalization of metal head keys through graphic etchings without the need to remove the key from the clamp, making Ninja Vortex the only complete key cutting machine for high security, dimple and laser keys,

Laser Key Products

The engraving jaw has three height positions depending on the width of the key blank. Keybow widths required for word alignment is built-in for most popular key blanks. Two lines can generally used for marking. Some blanks such as Kwikset which have large cutout areas in the keybow may be restricted to one line of engraving. Next type in the wording to be used for each line. Progressive numbering is available. When this option is chosen each subsequent engraved key will automatically have a new number such as Room 21, Room 22, etc. A square print area of 1.5" can be accommodated. A second jaw is designed to mark mortise or IC core cylinders. The Laser Key engraving system can also be used for removing the bow from standard key blanks and form them into flip key blades.

For More Information

For more information contact your local locksmith distributor or:

  • Laser Key Products:
  • Kaba Ilco-
  • HUDSON/HPC: [email protected]
  • Keyline USA: