There are two types of people in this world: those who can keep track of their keys, and those who can’t. If you’re one of the latter, you’re undoubtedly aware of the importance of stashing spares around your house, lest you be locked outside and be forced to squirm your way through a doggy door. Apartment dwellers are almost certainly familiar with the “give copies to friends/family” approach. Up until now, your only options for getting spares made were to hit up a hardware store, or track down one of those MinuteKey duplicator kiosks. Until now.
KeyMe offers an alternative solution. The burgeoning digital key storage start-up has partnered with 3D printing marketplace Shapeways to enable users to snap pictures of their keys and have them printed in materials like plastic, brass, or even solid gold.
Technically, it’s always been possible to make 3D printed keys through Shapeways, but doing so required either precise 3D modeling skills or a 3D scanner to do it for you. This partnership is significant because it allows anyone with a mobile phone to create perfect 3D-printed reproductions quickly and easily. It also enables users to add a touch of personalization and creativity to their keys, as Shapeways allows users to add custom shapes to the top of each one they order. If you’re so inclined, you can even send a mugshot along with your key picture and have Shapeways print your face on top – no 3D modeling knowledge required on your part.
The most basic plastic model will set you back $10 (plus shipping), and customized models made from stronger materials will drive the price of each key upward even more. At this point in time, the service definitely isn’t as practical as heading over to your local hardware shop to get a copy made. However, if you happen to live in New York and can track down a KeyMe kiosk (there are a few dozen scattered throughout the city, usually at 7/11) you can print out copies of your keys for as little as $3.50. That’s not half bad compared to a $200 locksmith bill.