Key innovation: Security from the powder bed

By: Reiner Knittel, Messer Schweiz

Switzerland | Zürich-based Urban Alps AG has developed a key technology with a completely new design: the “Stealth Key.” Laser powder bed fusion makes it possible to arrange its security features under narrow strips inside the key. As a result, thieves cannot duplicate it from a smartphone photo or by impressioning. The company uses 3D printing to manufacture the key from a wear-resistant steel alloy in powder form. It uses argon from Messer as a shielding gas.

The keys are custom manufactured for every need. That means there are no blanks in circulation, so keys cannot be duplicated on a key milling machine. The technology also enables decentralized production, as CEO Frank Santoro points out: “We can transmit the 3D printing data securely to any location. That saves time and shipping and transportation costs, along with customs charges.”