Not too many years ago laser-style high security automotive keys were only used by the rich and famous. Mercedes, BMW and Saab were the first manufacturers to use high security car keys. These keys were more a curiosity than a profit maker for most locksmiths. Due to the low volume, only a small percentage of locksmiths at that time invested in the specialized key machines needed to duplicate high security keys.
As insurance companies began seeing an increase in auto theft, they demanded better vehicle security protection. One result has been a gradual shift towards high security key systems. Mitsubishi is one of the last holdouts. Every other major car company has one or more models which use laser-cut, high security key systems. Even as some vehicles become equipped with pushbutton starting systems, almost all of the emergency keys for these vehicles continue to use high security keyways. Offering a duplication service for high security vehicle keys has now become a necessity for every locksmith business.
Kaba Ilco Corp. has responded to this need with their new 057 HS automotive high security key duplicator. This economical machine occupies a workbench space of only 11” X 15”. It is a dedicated machine strictly manufactured for the duplication of two-track and four-track, internal and external high security automotive keys. With few exceptions, every popular high security automotive key can be duplicated by using the vise jaw and 2.5 MM cutter and guide furnished as standard equipment with the 057 HS machine.
Most high security key blank blades are within a standard thickness range and have blade edges which can be easily clamped in a vise for duplication. A few key blanks such as an Ilco S50HF-P for Mercedes or the Ilco HU66-P for VW, Porsche & Audi have blade edges which are not easily held in a standard vise jaw. Kaba-Ilco has two sets of optional clamping adapters for holding these types of keys. An optional 2 MM cutter and guide are also available to be used when duplicating newer type Lexus emergency keys having cuts on only one side of the blank.
There are two lever controls on the 057 HS machine. On the right is the traverse lever. It controls both space and depth movement of the vise jaw. To the left is the Z-axis lever. It controls vertical movement of the cutter and guide. A knob on the right side is the Z-axis locking knob. Once the correct cutter height is made, the Z-axis locking knob is used to tighten the cutter and guide in that position. All key cutting action is done by movement of the traverse knob.
Adjusting Cutter Blade Guide Heights
A unique feature of the 057 HS machine is its set of calibration keys. If the operating height of the cutter and guide are not coordinated correctly, it is possible to touch the cutter against the jaw and damage either or both parts. Calibration keys are designed to prevent such an accident. Calibration keys are marked ‘L’ and ‘R’. The ‘R’ calibration key is .002 thicker than the ‘L’ calibration key. To adjust cutter height, install the calibration keys in the left and right jaws according to the ‘L’ and ‘R’ markings. Install the required cutter guide into the sleeve on the left side until it bottoms out, then tighten in place.
Insert the required cutter into the right hand spindle and lower the head assembly until the guide touches the ‘L’ calibration key. While holding slight downward pressure against the ‘L’ calibration key, move the cutter against the ‘R’ calibration key and tighten the cutter in place. Two set screws retain the cutter in place on 057 HS machines. Cutter/Guide heights are coordinated when both guide and cutter touch the calibration keys at the same time. Once the calibration keys are removed, the cutter will be .002 higher than the guide which prevents the cutter from touching the jaw if the guide should come in contact with the jaw.
Vise jaws have another unique feature. If for any reason the vise jaw becomes damaged or worn, small jaw sections which hold the key blank can be removed and replaced with new sections which saves the cost of complete vise jaw replacement.
High security automotive keys are designed with a variety of different blank thicknesses. After duplication, the amount of metal remaining in the center of the key is called the web. Web thickness is very important. If the web is too thin, the key is weakened. If the web is too thick, there is a possibility that the new duplicate will not enter into the vehicle lock cylinders.
Before each duplication procedure and with the 057 HS machine turned OFF, first place the original key into the key vise and under the key guide. Use the Z-axis lever to move the guide downward into any cutout area near the front of the original key. Gently touch the cut surface and then tighten the guide height at that position using the Z-axis locking knob. Next insert the new key blank into place.
High security automotive key systems may have either a shoulder stop or tip stop design. Shoulder stop key shoulders are aligned against the front of the jaw. Tip stop key blades can be of several different lengths depending on the lock design and amount of cut spaces in the lock. Two grooves are machined into the vise jaw and a set of tip stop gage bars are included with the 057 HS machine. Depending on the tip stop key length, gage bars are inserted in the front or rear grooves and the tip of the original key and key blank are pressed against the tip stop gages and tightened into position for perfect tip alignment.
Once the keys have been correctly tightened and proper cutter height has been set, key cutting can begin. When viewed from above, the cutter blade is spinning in a clockwise direction. Just as with a saw blade, optimum cutting action takes place in only one direction. For a four-track, external cut key, begin on the right side of the key and near the bow. Move the cutter along the key towards the tip. Move around the tip of the key and continue cutting the left side beginning at the tip and moving the cutter back towards the bow. Do not try to complete the key cuts in one pass. Move the cutter away from the key and back to the right side and begin a second and third pass if needed beginning each pass at the key bow.
Two track and internal design keys each have their own cutter direction requirements. The 057 HS manual and an 057 HS CD video training manual provide good fundamental instructions for operating the 057 HS machine.
The 057 HS machine is equipped with an ‘invertor friendly’ 110 volt motor which draws approximately 230 watts (460 peak) and is ideal for mobile use. Cutter changing, height adjustments and final key cutting take only a few moments per key. A protective transparent circular cutter shield can be rotated out of the way during cutter changing and adjusting. However, whenever using any key cutting equipment, always use safety glasses for additional protection.