There's been quite a bit of interest in using the OpenSCAD 3D Modeling tool for a variety of designs, but this one caught our eye. OpenSCAD, if you aren't aware, is a free GPL open source 3D modelling tool that is non-visual. Instead of dragging, squeezing and pinching components into your model, OpenSCAD requires you to laboriously enter text commands to produce an entire model. It sounds difficult, and it would be for many people.
But why would you use a difficult tool? Simply because this approach offers the amazing ability to very easily adjust, resize, add or subtract to an existing model. There are many situations where this might be important. Imagine a panel with bolt holes that must be enlarged. A standard modeling tool would stretch not only the panel, but also the bolt hole! With OpenSCAD's approach you adjust the commands for the panel but leave the bolt hole instructions as is.
What other situations could this be useful for? One that appeared recently was a physical "keygen": a means to create physical keys. Nirav Patel of eclectic used OpenSCAD to design a "meta key" on which could be added the specific bends and twists of a particular physical key.
His result is impressive: you need only specify the key code (typically stamped on the key) and his code converts this into the appropriate OpenSCAD code to generate the key's profile.
We think this is pretty amazing; imagine if everyone could punch out keys with such ease. On the other hand, the authorities might not appreciate widespread ability to make keys so easily. Nevertheless, this is the world we're now entering. Our only concern is how to get the broken plastic bits out of our locks when they break off!