Cryptex Lock Design Preview

For my project, I decided to make a cryptex lock as I have wanted to build one ever since watching The Da Vinci Code. Thus, this project presented me with the perfect opportunity to design and fabricate a lock based on one of my favorite movies. This lock falls into one aesthetic which I am not as familiar with and one that is going to push my boundaries and creativity moving forward. My personal aesthetic is casual sports wear and a cryptex lock doesn’t fit the typical casual sports wear look. Therefore, I am currently torn between two different aesthetics for my lock. The first aesthetic would be gothic where I would print the cryptex lock in all black PLA to give it a more 20th century gothic look. The other aesthetic would fall into the sports category and emulate the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins colors. I currently have black and yellow PLA which fits the team’s colors perfectly. If I were to choose this aesthetic I would print half of the cryptex lock in yellow and the other half in black. Therefore, I am still torn on which aesthetic to target for my final design. The yellow PLA was used to print one of the locking number dials which can be seen below. I have also printed a locking number dial in black to show the contrast in colors.

Most, if not all of my inspiration for the locking number dials as well as the rest of the lock came from The Da Vinci Code as well as seeing other cryptex lock images online. I want this project to be the first step in potentially building a larger cryptex lock with more storage and more number dials on the outer cylinder face. I think that the structural foundation of the lock will be present in my design however, in the future I can always expand and build a much more intricate cryptex lock as seen below.

The supplies needed for this project are 1 kg PLA filament’s, SolidWorks, and a Lulzbot 3D printer. The first step in creating the cryptex lock was deciding on how many locking numbers dials I wanted. I also needed to decide on how many faces each locking number dial would have because this denoted how many numbers who be on the dial. Once, this was decided I was able to design the key which has excursions on the cylinder aligning with the corresponding lock combination. Pictured below is the original key mechanism that allows the cryptex lock to open.

After the first iteration of printed locking number dials and the key I began to test tolerances to make sure I left enough negative space on the dial so that the key is able to be removed. This step has proven to be very challenging as I don’t have the right tolerances currently for the key to easily be removed when the correct locking number combination is input. Therefore, I am still working on updating my design to ensure that there is enough negative space between the key and locking number dial.

Once the step above has been complete I need to design an outer cylinder that will encompass the key as well as the rest of the cryptex lock components. The outer cylinder of the lock is where the storage will be provided for the lock and will have negative space once the key is properly removed. Again, I haven’t begun this step as I am still figuring out how to properly design the key and locking number dial interface. After I finalize the key and dials I can design the outer cylinder which is the final step for my cryptex lock. This project was broken down into sections where each section impacts the progress of the next step in the design process.

Link to Video:

Below is a link to the video of the zoom presentation I gave on my Design Preview:


[1]  “335.73US $: Fashion New Style Educational Toys Cryptex Locks Gift Ideas Da Vinci Code Lock to Marry Lover Escape Chamber Props Black: Locks: – AliExpress.”,


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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hannah Moller
    April 2, 2021 12:33 pm

    Looks like you have a really great start into your project and have a clear direction that you’re heading! Your prototyping so far looks great and I can’t wait to see with what aesthetic you end up going with. I can definitely get behind the casual sports aesthetics it’s your choice of being a Penguin fan I am hesitant on. However, to each their own. All joking aside, I am excited to see how this project ends up turning out!

    • Branden Tangney
      April 2, 2021 1:54 pm

      Thank you! I have decided I am going with a mid 20th century gothic look for my final design. After my design review everyone gave me feedback to target the gothic, so maybe they aren’t penguins fans either…


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