3D printing TSA master keys


I’ve written about 3D printing keys before, but now there’s an example you can try at home—the TSA master keys!

Last month (8/2015), the Washington Post published an article about baggage handling at airports. In it, they mentioned the TSA master key practice, and “innocently” included a photograph of the master keys on a keyring [not the censored version above.] (For those not familiar, the TSA in the States allows airline passengers to use TSA-approved locks on their luggage, all of which contain a back-door that allows the TSA to open your lock with a master key.)

If you can see a key, you can copy it. This is well known in the locksmith/lock-picking community, and once the master key photo was published, the community quickly realized its potential. [See Bruce Schneier’s post, TSA Master Keys, or BoingBoing’s Make your own TSA universal luggage keys.]

With the photo in-hand, designing 3D models was a straight-forward process.


The image above is from https://github.com/Xyl2k/TSA-Travel-Sentry-master-keys, an open-source project containing STL files for each of the master keys.

The legality of possessing these keys outside of your home is questionable, but if you need to get into your own luggage in a pinch, your 3D printer can now give you the key.

[Images via Boing Boing and the TSA-Travel-Sentry-master-keys project on Github.]

Fisher—A low-cost, entry-level delta 3D printer


RepRapPro is launching a new, entry-level 3D printer at an impressively low price (around $300, at the time of writing.) If you’ve wanted to get into a Delta-style printer, this looks to be a fantastic way to start.

Even though it’s an entry-level machine, you’re still getting capable electronics, “12.5um resolution”, and auto calibration. The Duet electronics give you on-board microSD storage and a web interface for network printing.

Read more about it at:

And order the beta kit:

3D modeling the Minecraft-way

3D Slash screenshot

I know what you’ve been thinking—why can’t 3D modeling be more like Minecraft? Well, the folks at 3D Slash have apparently been thinking the same thing. They’ve put together a web-based voxel editor that can export STL files for printing. The result should feel fairly natural to those with Minecraft experience.

Even though my quick little creation above is rather boxy, 3D Slash allows you to drill into each block, splitting them into sub-blocks upon sub-blocks. This allows you to model curves, defined in smaller and smaller pixels.

The editing experience is easy to grasp, though tool-changes can be unnecessarily slow (the switch between adding and breaking blocks is a great example, where you expect something simple like a shift-click to invert the action, but instead, you have click to a separate tool-selection screen every-time.)

Once you complete your designs, they can be easily exported as STL files for printing with your own printer, provided you register with the site.

Repetier-Host screenshot
[My Minecraft-inspired skeleton loaded into Repetier-Host, sliced with Slic3r.]

As an alternative experience for modeling, 3D Slash brings something fun to the table that is easy to start with. That experience counts for quite a lot when talking about modeling software!

[Edited 2014-04-29 with updated experience.]

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