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Manual Key Machines: What Are Your Options?

by Guest on Oct 7, 2020

An essential part of locksmithing, manual key machines form the bread and butter of many businesses. But with so many options available on the marketplace and the cost involved with buying a unit, it becomes essential to carry out your research and find an option that is right for your work. So, why exactly should you be extra cautious when picking up a unit and what should you bear in mind before pulling the trigger on a purchase?

Why should you take care?

No matter your business, the purchase of heavy or mission-critical machinery should be met with due caution and proper consideration. Used for the duplication or production of a range of keys for professional or private use, a manual key machine is at the beating heart of many locksmith’s businesses. While previous businesses may have relied on one type of machine, modern locking systems require a practitioner who can supply a range of solutions. This makes finding the right manual key machine essential for your professional needs, but also to ensure that your business remains viable for the years ahead.

What options are available?

While three-dimensional key machines have a range of types and options, there are several subsets that should always be considered before making a purchase. These include-

Code Units:

Available in hand or motor powered formats, these units are computer-driven to streamline the production process and allow for the rapid, reliable generation of a key from scratch. Perfect for jobs where high degrees of accuracy and consistency are essential, the additional use of changeable cutter wheels add extra options but will potentially come with the additional expense to match.

Duplicators:

The most prevalent type of machine, these ‘hands-on’ units allows users full control of x, y, and z axes. While older units may be cheaper, selecting a semi-automatic unit gives greater consistency to reproduction work and increased ease of use. While there are fully-automatic options on the market, these can often come with increased running time and additional maintenance if subject to heavy use. While semis are the preferred option for many, finding the right option for your business and use-case is helpful.

Milling Machines:

Another type of electronic unit, millers allows for key origination and duplication. Designed for high-security environments, these are a solid choice for professional projects where reliability and durability are an issue. Highly adaptable and customizable, these can use a range of cutter bits to add precision control but can run the risk of being prohibitively expensive and not fit for use for high-volume daily work.

Punch Units:

Non-motorized Z-motion units, these units are lightweight with a small surface area that makes them exceptionally reliable and portable. Used for the generation of code keys, these deploy a set key profile for the rapid production of keys, either allowing for single types or changing the template out to get additional results.

Tubular Machines:

Specialist kit for compliant locks, these can be motorized or hand-fed, allowing for rapid reliable duplication or the production of code keys. Simple to set up and deploy, the units are extremely straightforward to use but should ideally allow for the broadest range of key cutting options possible.

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