What’s the Difference Between Laser Cut Keys and Traditional Keys?

laser cutting keys
If you want to upgrade your security system, you must know about traditional and laser car keys. Learn what's different between laser-cut keys and traditional cut keys to make the right choice for your vehicle, home, or office.

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The advancement in key manufacturing has improved the anti-thief systems of vehicles. Traditional cut keys have been known for their reliability for a long time. However, they can’t beat the level of security that laser-cut keys provide. With their exceptional security, laser-cut keys have become a top choice for car manufacturers and vehicle owners.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between laser-cut keys and traditional-cut keys. You’ll also learn about the advantages of laser and traditional cut car keys. So, let’s dig into it.

What are Traditional Cut Keys?

Traditional keys are manufactured using a mechanical key-cutting machine. In these keys, the cuts are made on the edges. These edges are designed according to the pin pattern of the locks. When the key is inserted into the lock and turned, the cuts align with the pins and the lock is unlocked.

The small combination spread of traditional cut car keys poses a major security risk for vehicles. If you lose your keys, an expert locksmith can determine the specifications of the lock and make a new key. Moreover, the wide availability of mechanical cutting machines makes duplicating a traditional car key easier. You can get a traditional cut key from any hardware store or key duplicator without proof of ownership.

Traditional Cut Keys

Advantages of Traditional Cut Keys

Traditional cut keys are a perfect security component. They offer the following benefits to users:

1. Simplicity

Traditional cut keys have a simple design at the edges. Locksmiths don’t need special equipment to make them. You can get their copies from any locksmith easily. Moreover, using them is also a straightforward process. Just insert a traditional key in the lock and turn it, and it will open.

2. Durability

Traditional cut keys are made of nickel or brass. These metals are known for their sturdiness and durability. They can also withstand rough handling and harsh usage. These features make traditional keys a long-lasting option for your security system.

3. Low Cost

Traditional keys are an affordable choice when it comes to getting a new lock or making copies of a key. Their affordability is a considerable aspect when you are short on budget.

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What are Laser Cut Keys?

Laser-cut keys, also known as sidewinder keys or internal keys, are fantastic alternatives to traditional car keys. They were introduced in the 1990s for high-end vehicles. However, due to their high security and uniqueness, they gained immense popularity. Today, you can find laser-cut keys in various car brands. According to the Lockfix, laser-cut car keys are more advanced than regular keys as they offer additional security.

They are manufactured using special laser cutting equipment that creates a unique style groove in the middle. The cuts make them sturdier and thicker than traditional cut keys. Moreover, the cut is made on both sides of a laser cut key. It allows you to open the lock in either direction.

Laser-cut keys also come with a transponder chip. Each chip is designed to work with a specific vehicle. If the respondent chip of a particular vehicle is not near its receiver, the vehicle will not work. This feature makes laser-cut keys more secure than traditional keys.

Want to learn more about laser cutting? Click on this article.

A luxurious car with a laser cut key.

Advantages of Laser Cut Keys

The advanced manufacturing of laser-cut keys makes it more precise. The following are the benefits of using laser-cut keys for your vehicles, homes, or offices:

1. Enhanced Security

Laser-cut keys are unique and difficult to duplicate. The intricate pattern and complicated cuts make it nearly impossible for an unauthorized person to replicate without special equipment. This feature adds an extra layer of security to your security systems. You can rest assured that your laser-cut keys will offer protection against theft or break-ins.

2. Minimum Lock Picking Risk

Unlike traditional keys, the complexity of laser-cut keys makes it challenging for unauthorized access. The unique design of laser-cut keys requires specialized equipment and skilled technicians to replicate. It makes it difficult for thieves or intruders to duplicate a key without authorization.

3. Precise Manufacturing

Laser-cut keys are precisely manufactured. Each detail of a laser-cut key is made with great care. A computer-aided system carves the intricate pattern on this type of key. It ensures that every detail is made accurately, leaving no room for error.

4. Unique Cut Pattern

The cut pattern significantly impacts the functionality of the key. Laser-cut car keys have a unique pattern for each vehicle. Laser-cut keys have a specific pattern for each car, unlike traditional car keys with the same key pattern for several car models. The unique cut patterns make it challenging for thieves to duplicate a laser-cut key or pick the lock.

How Both Types of Keys are Made?

A simple cutting machine makes traditional cut keys. Locksmiths use mechanical cutting machines for this purpose. They also use a die punch for making this type of key. You can cut the edges of traditional keys with the assistance of a locksmith. The manufacturing process requires precise calibration as it involves manual labor.

A door lock with traditional cut key.

For laser-cut keys, you have to decode the original key or lock. According to Locksmith Sarasota, laser-cutting machines work like automatic cutting machines. The difference between the two is the usage of a laser beam instead of a blade.

A locksmith can decode the key manually or use specific settings in the cutting machine. Adjust the settings in the laser-cutting machine for accurate cutting. Ensure to choose the right file for laser cutting.

The setting is crucial for accurate duplication or manufacturing of the key. Any error in the setting can damage the key, giving you an unwanted pattern. After adjusting the settings, the machine starts cutting the key pattern. The laser machine will complete the whole process in a few minutes.

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The Difference Between Traditional and Laser Cut Keys

Though traditional and laser-cut keys are used for the same purpose, they have significant differences. The differences between the two types offer various levels of convenience. Here are some key differences between traditional and laser-cut keys:

Differences BaseTraditional Cut Car KeysLaser Cut Car Keys
Cut DesignCuts are made on one side of the keyGrooves are made in the middle of the key
Cutting MachineA simple metal cutting machine is used for manufacturingSpecialized laser equipment is used for manufacturing
Duplication of the key Duplication is easyDuplication is difficult
PricingAffordable choiceExpensive option 
Lock Picking Easy to pick by lock pickersHard to pick by lock pickers
The Difference Between Traditional and Laser Cut Car Keys

1. Cut Design

Traditional keys have notches and cuts on one side. The cuts are designed to open the lock in one direction. In contrast, the laser keys have a different design. Instead of having cuts on the sides, they have a grooved design in the middle. The design is carved on both sides of the laser key, enabling you to open the lock in both directions.

2. Cutting Machine

Traditional keys employ a simple metal cutting machine. On the other hand, laser-cut keys are made by using specialized equipment. A special laser-cutting machine is used to engrave the key pattern in the middle.

 Traditional vs. Laser Cut Keys

3. Duplication of the Key

You can get a copy of traditional cut keys from any hardware shop due to their simple design. However, According to Statista, since the late 1990s, laser-cut keys comprise unique transponders for each lock. The transponders are placed in the plastic body of the key. No one can unlock the lock without that particular transponder. The intricate design also makes laser-cut keys more difficult to duplicate than traditional ones.

4. Pricing

Traditional and laser-cut keys also have variable prices. Laser-cut keys are expensive due to their unique processing and involvement of advanced technology. In comparison, traditional keys are affordable due to the simple key-cutting process.

5. Lock Picking

Traditional cut keys are easy to pick due to their small combination spread. In contrast, picking laser-cut keys are difficult as they have transponder chip to protect the lock. It limits the unauthorized access to your vehicle.

Which One is Right for You?

Laser-cut keys and traditional-cut keys have variable features. The choice of the key is not the same for everyone. Choosing the right key depends on your personal preferences.

Laser-cut keys are designed to offer better security to your assets. It’s best for high-end vehicles that need exceptional security. With a unique design carved in the middle, duplicating it is not easy. Its protection is enhanced by featuring a transponder chip in the head of the key. These features make it difficult for lock pickers to break in.

However, traditional cut keys also offer good protection. With its easy duplication, you can easily get its copies from any hardware store. Moreover, they are not expensive. This makes them a perfect alternative for you if you are short on budget.

A man is offering a bunch of keys.


FAQ 1: Are laser-cut keys harder to pick?

Yes, laser-cut keys are hard to pick due to their exclusive design. They have an unlocking pattern in the middle that needs special manufacturing equipment. Moreover, laser-cut keys also have transponder chips for additional protection.

FAQ 2: Are laser-cut keys better?

Yes, laser-cut keys are a better choice, as lock pickers can’t duplicate them easily. Moreover, transponders also protect them from theft.

FAQ 3: How do I know if my key is laser-cut?

You will know about it by looking at your key. A laser-cut key is a unique key type that has cuts or grooves in the center. This design enables the users to unlock the lock in both directions.

FAQ 4: How much do laser-cutting keys cost?

The cost of laser-cutting keys varies. Generally, a laser-cut key cost ranges from $95 to $165. The addition of a transponder chip in the key will further increase the laser-cut key cost.

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Laser-cut keys are an excellent choice to make your security system more reliable. The intricate patterns and wide combination spread make the duplication process difficult. Moreover, the addition of transponders offers exceptional security. These features protect your vehicles and properties from theft.

Though they are a little expensive, the additional security they offer is worth the cost. While embarking on the journey of the perfect laser-cut key, don’t forget about the quality and expertise.

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Do you want to make laser-cut car keys? The innovative laser solutions of Baison Laser can make a difference for you. Contact us today to get the perfect laser cutters or other laser machines and give life to your projects.

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Sam Chen

Hey there, I’m Sam!

I’m the founder of Baison. We have been helping manufacturing industries increase their productivity and capacity with our advanced fiber laser systems for over 20 years.

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