The Triton Makes the Cut

July 2, 2020
The key-cutting machine by Lock Labs has something for everyone in the locksmith industry.

The Triton key-cutting machine, which made its debut last summer with little fanfare, is the product of a joint venture between U.S. distributorship Lock Labs and Hunan Kukai Electromechanical (HKE). The Triton marks HKE’s entry to the U.S. market, at an attractive price. It becomes immediately clear within minutes of using a Triton, however, that no compromises were made in its overall build quality or features.

In the automotive world, there is no shortage of key-cutting machines that can duplicate or originate virtually any type of vehicle key. However, several of these leave a bit to be desired when cutting commercial, residential or institutional keys. Some can’t cut any type of nonautomotive key by code, which means that your only option to generate even, say, a simple Kwikset key would be to duplicate an existing one.

Enter the Triton. It has the ability to duplicate and generate most every commercial, residential, institutional and automotive key by code. It even can customize keys through the use of a supplemental engraving jaw.

Lots of Features

Whether you’re a novice or an old pro, the Triton’s full suite of key-cutting features truly provide something for everyone. The Triton is controlled by a seven-inch touchscreen and  provides step-by-step operator guidance throughout each of its features, which makes it one of the easiest key-cutting machines to operate. Although its core operations are simplified, more-seasoned users should appreciate this machine’s host of robust features.

For example, the Triton features a proprietary key-code database that enables cutting by code for all supported key types, so there’s no need to purchase any additional code-conversion software. (There also is no annual charge for maintaining the code database, and the machine updates are free for life.) The Triton also provides an integrated fill-progressioning service that assists you in forecasting missing cut depths via the proprietary key-code database for when you attempt to decode and generate a key. This most certainly will help you to reduce time while in the field by eliminating guesswork during impressioning.

The Triton’s direct duplication feature traces and cuts unknown keyways for those rare instances when you have an original key and a compatible blank but no space and depth information. The advanced key-tracing feature also accounts for wear on known keyways and automatically rounds off measurements to meet the original key specifications, or it will cut to a precise match if that’s what you prefer. You also can create custom key profiles that will allow you to input your own space and depth information and tether it to the keyway of your choice.

One of the highlights of the Triton is the four-way jaw that’s included with the machine. It combines a clamping system to cut most modern automotive keys on the market. One single jaw is all you need for all laser-cut and double-side edge-cut automotive keys. For your commercial, residential, institutional and single-side automotive cutting jobs, you’ll have to add a reasonably priced single-side jaw. Tibbe, tubular, dimple and engraving jaws also are available, and the Triton can make quick work of these tasks, too.

Quite a bit of attention has been paid to the details in the Triton. It has onboard storage for all of your various cutting bits and tracers. The included shavings tray is easily removable, which makes quick work of cleaning up after a day of cutting keys. Not to be forgotten is the optional 12-volt power adapter that can plug into any vehicle cigarette lighter to power the machine throughout all its functions while in the field. That said, the form factor of the machine makes it meant to be used bench-mounted or bolted to your vehicle workspace through the attachment of an optional bolt-down kit. Don’t get me wrong, the Triton isn’t massive by any means — it weighs 35.3 pounds — but I wouldn’t want to lug it around at a job site.

As far as the actual key-cutting process goes, the Triton is much quieter than are key-cutting machines from 5 years ago and on par with its current peers. The lid also aids quite a bit in reducing overall noise and mess, so it’s recommended that you keep it shut during cutting to take advantage of the numerous safety benefits in addition to the noise reduction. Key cutting and decoding are all exceptionally smooth, and any occasional issues that were encountered on various keyways were remedied swiftly by Lock Labs’ top-notch U.S.-based technical support.

A Word with Lock Labs

Chris Lira, the head of support, research and development for the Triton and AutoProPAD machines for Lock Labs, provided further insight into the Triton:

Locksmith Ledger: Where do you see Triton in today’s market?

Lira: Triton is in a position where it’s kind of “punching up,” so to speak, while trying to establish itself. The number of things that it has the potential to do — and already can do — would easily put it in a higher pricing bracket if we were an established name in the marketplace. We worked to set a price point that was attractive enough to persuade people to take a chance on us until we build some clout. Fortunately, our manufacturing process allows us to be competitive, and I feel that you get a ton for your money.

It’s not built on the back of stolen tech, which was a big thing for me when we decided to get into working on it. It’s a project that’s being worked on and supported by and for the U.S., by actual American locksmiths. We stand behind it and are in it for the long haul, to continually refine the machine and address any outstanding issues.

LL: It’s an original design then?

Lira: It is, at least as physically original as you seemingly can be at this point. There are going to be some visual similarities between Triton and other machines — there are only so many ways to tackle specific tasks — but the software isn’t a reskinned version of anything else.

There have been a ton of changes made to the machine since I first got my hands on the prototype last year. There was a lot that went into making it a better, more cohesive experience. It really has come a long way, both in the software and hardware.

LL: What changed on the machine since the initial release last summer?

Lira: Software-wise, all kinds of things — clarifying instructions, localizing the automotive listing for the U.S. market, adding new keyways, bug fixes, warning screens, etc. Hardware-wise, a few subtle cosmetic changes that we figured out how to make better in the manufacturing process.

I am on the frontline of support, so I’m often getting direct-user feedback and channeling it directly to the right people for change. My repair team is also in the loop, and we have a good relationship with the engineers, so it’s a pretty positive experience, where we all have the common goal of working together to make the machine awesome.

LL: What’s next for the Triton?

Lira: We’ve got an engraving update coming out that speeds up the engraving process and gives users a larger surface area to engrave on. A hardware update may be required for early adopters of the engraving jaw, so we’ve been waiting to get units in the field updated before we release the update. There’s also a simulated plunge-cut option that should be in the engraving update.

We’ve heard from a lot of users that they’re not into the way the machine “laser cuts” keys, and I get it. It may potentially invite issues with some masterkey systems, and there may be problems with pullout. We will be adding a toggle option for the machine to lift off a little between cuts as if it was a machine with a traditional cutting wheel. From there, we are just continuing to make Triton better as a whole.

Lira says the engraving update was expected to arrive by the time of publication and advises that if you suspect that you might require an engraving-jaw update, check out the warranty repair center at

You can find the Triton available for sale at major locksmith distributors. For more information:

Updating software:

Jaw calibration:

Mo Ali is vice president of product development for American Key Supply and has more than 20 years of automotive experience as an electrician and a locksmith.