The development of a new High Security Lock can take two years or more. Most will be patented to protect the key, keyway, and other novel operating features. Once the design of the lock and keys are complete and the initial patent search comes back clean, then these two will proceed together on parallel tracks.
On the design track, a few locks and keys are handmade and tested for operation and function. Things that will be tested are how well does the lock hold up to environmental factors, cycle testing, key strength and other operational functions will be tested. Cycle testing is where the key is inserted into the lock and operated many times. This will make sure the key and lock will hold up to many real life locking and unlocking. If any breakage or excessive wear is discovered, then changes will be made to either the material or internal parts of the lock.
On the patent track, documentation is sent to the U.S. Patent Office. The application is assigned a patent examiner who will do a search to make sure that this new proposed patent is not like another. Communications called “Office Actions” are sent to the Company asking questions. This is where the Company will defend its Novel application with more documents or drawing showing exactly why their Lock and key are different than many other locks with patents. This back-and-forth process can go on for a year or more. When the examiner is satisfied that new lock and keys are a new and novel invention a patent is issued. Therefore, Companies spend a lot of money developing their locks and hire patent attorneys to help them search the patent office and prepare the documentation.
Back on the design track, after testing and modification, engineers then figure out how to mass produce their new lock and key. They also look at the different materials that can be used to make the product. This could range from stainless steel to a diecast material. The key material is important, it must work with the lock keeping wear down to a minimum.
Different materials will have an impact on the selling price of the product and must be carefully considered. Proposed pricing usually is discussed at the beginning of the development. A product must be made and sold at a price that the target customer will purchase.
I hope that this article shows just how long and expensive it is to develop a High Security Lock.