A Custom Designed Lock is designed to the exact specifications for a customer. A customer will approach a lock manufacturer with an idea for a lock that they need. However, there is no “Off the Shelf” lock that will fit their needs. The customer will have to present some idea as to what they want to secure, a basic idea as to the design and the quantity desired. Here are some other important factors:

  • The security level of the lock
  • Type of key design
  • Material that the lock should be made from
  • What tooling would be necessary
  • Time frame needed

Once some of these early questions are answered, then an estimate of tooling costs and the estimate of the lock cost is discussed. The quantity needed now becomes the major deciding factor. An initial run of 5,000 to 10,000 is standard. The larger the number the less expensive the individual lock becomes.

The tooling costs could also become a deciding factor and usually is. These costs can get as high as $100,000. If the customer pays these costs then that lock and design becomes theirs and cannot be used for another customer. If the manufacturer pays the tooling, then usually they can sell it to other customers. There could be some variations on the tooling costs depending on the quantity.

Once the design process starts, drawings are sent back and forth to the customer until they are satisfied that the design will fit their needs. When the customer signs off on the design then the tooling is designed and made. From there a small run is usually sent to the customer to make sure that it works for them. Small modifications can be made at this point. After customer approval the main production run is started. The manufacturer will usually preform quality control during the production run to make sure the lock is within specifications.

The above may sound like a very easy process. It’s not. It can take at least 3 months for a simple design up to 6-9 months for a complex design. The more complex the design the more expensive this whole process becomes.

Many manufacturers will not even consider custom design locks, it disrupts their manufacturing process. Others will require a very large up-front deposit, so that their costs are covered if the customer backs out. Many who want a custom designed lock will seek out designer lock manufacturers that specialize in this process.