WEST POINT, N.Y. (Jan. 25, 2015) -- The tall order of creating keys to replace the keys for the historic and antique door locks of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point Cadet Chapel began with four mechanical engineering cadets in 2014. The keys, adorned with the Cadet Crest, were completed and presented to the Cadet Chapel, Dec. 17.

Class of 2014 Cadets Christina Cox, Michael Deschene, Richard Glover and Mark Hesford began the service project for the Cadet Chapel on behalf of the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. The chaplains have been using makeshift keys according to Class of 2016 Cadet Jeremy Matsumoto, who took the project over as an independent study.

The group developed three potential techniques for reverse engineering the key, 3D scanning, using a point grabber tool and taking measurements with calipers to manually build a 3D CAD model.

The mission of the project was the West Point Cadet Capstone team getting involved in reverse engineering, fabricating, testing and reproducing an antique Cadet Chapel key by May 2015 in order to replenish the diminishing supply of those historic artifacts. "The ones they had were makeshift keys and were spot welded in places," Matsumoto said.

Even though it began a couple years ago, it was not easy trying to finish the project. When Matsumoto took over, there were no templates to work from for the remaining door locks so they had to take precise measurements in order to create the keys.

"We sent them to be fabricated. The keys are reverse engineered and with very modern tools in use today, they did it. (The key fabricators) were able to create a template made of stainless steel and the keys are washed in bronze to keep them from oxidizing," Matsumoto said. "The hardest part was measuring. Everything was hand made so it was crazy trying to get exact measurements."

"The keys turned out better than I expected. We started with making one key, a 3D made in plastic to test the design, but now we have six for the two doors all printed in metal, they should last 50 years," Matsumoto added.

Project advisor Lt. Col. Joshua Keena was also impressed.

"Last year, our cadets developed a process by which they were able to reverse engineer and then using a 3D printing technology to fabricate and deliver a key to the Chapel Staff," Keena said. "Based on the success of these initial phases and the need to develop keys for two different entryways at the Cadet Chapel, Cadet Jeremy Matsumoto has applied the process and through his hard work, attention to detail and engineering skills, prepared the test and then fabricated the keys."