Pontiac advertising at one time coined the expression "wide track" to emphasize their stronger, smoother ride qualities. The same can be said for the new Bianchi 303 key cutting machine. It is definitely a sturdy machine plus it is smooth and easy to operate.
The first noticeable feature is the wide scope of key types that can be duplicated on the Bianchi 303 machine. The instruction book list of supported key types includes dimple keys, all styles of laser (sidewinder) keys, tubular keys and special keys such as Fichet and Tibbe. Most locksmiths in North America will probably be most interested in the Bianchi 303 for the duplication of automotive sidewinder keys.
Standard jaws on the machine are designed to easily hold normal sidewinder keys such as BMW or Mercedes four-track keys. Optional adaptors are available to secure key blanks such as Mercedes two-track, Audi & VW internal sidewinder, Jaguar Tibbe and Kaba dimple keys. These adaptors actually fit directly into the standard jaws and require no special installation. As the clamping knobs are turned, both the optional adaptors and the key blanks are secured at the same time within the standard jaws. Consult Bianchi for optional cutters and tracer guides, which also may be required.
Sidewinder keys require accurate cuts and the Bianchi 303 was built with accuracy in mind. The first step when duplicating a sidewinder key is to install the original key into the left side jaw for tracing and to install an uncut blank into the right side jaw for cutting. Next, a spring-loaded feature in the tracer assembly must be set in a locked position by lifting and turning a silver ring on the assembly.
An electronic depth-setting system is built into the cutter-tracer assembly. A power switch located in the rear of the machine activates the depth-setting system. A depth lever on the right side of the machine is used to move both the cutter and tracer guide downward until one or the other touches a key blank surface. When either the guide or cutter touches a key blank, one of two red arrows will light up on an LED screen and indicate which way to turn the red knob atop the tracer assembly. When both red arrow lights are off and a green light between the arrows is glowing, the correct depth has been set.
At this point the Bianchi 303 allows a locksmith to re-activate the spring-loaded feature. This requires a two-handed operation of continually holding the cutter assembly down with one hand while moving the guide over the original key with the other hand. This reporter found it easier to leave the tracer guide in a locked position and momentarily remove the uncut blank. The tracer guide is then moved down to the cut surface of the original key and the handle of the depth lever is twisted clockwise, locking the assembly at that depth. After reinstalling the uncut blank, key cutting becomes a one-handed operation which makes it is easier to concentrate on following the contours of the original sidewinder key.
The sturdy key machine design prevents any sign of cutter chatter during operation and duplication is a fast, simple procedure. While this written description of adjusting the machine for each duplication seems lengthy, the red arrow and green light depth monitoring system really speed the adjustment process and can be done in a matter of seconds.
Secondary features on the machine are also worth mentioning. Two knobs on the front of the Bianchi 303 control the carriage. The left knob can be used to stop left/right motion of the carriage so straight cuts can be made lengthwise along a key blank. This could be helpful when remilling blanks to fit into more than one keyway.
When the knob on the right is tightened, a spring-loaded feature is activated. Spring pressure can be exerted either towards the left or right side of the original key. When spring pressure is set, a carriage lever on the left side of the machine can be used to move the carriage lengthwise along the original key surface. Spring pressure which was set will cause the tracer guide to automatically follow the cut contours. What could be easier?