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3D printing in forensics

3D printing offers forensics the opportunity to support investigators in various areas in investigating criminal activities. We present areas of application, opportunities and advantages of 3D printers for forensics.

Over time, 3D printing is becoming more and more attractive and easier to use for a variety of applications and uses. Given this and the benefits that 3D printers offer, research has been conducted to investigate the possible use of additive manufacturing technology in forensics. For this purpose, various 3D printing processes were analyzed more or less successfully, among other things.

Which 3D printing process is suitable for forensics?

Three different pieces of bone were selected for the research: a metatarsal, a collarbone and a skull. Then the selected pieces were scanned with a 3D scanner and printed with 3D printers. Ultimately, the real objects were measured using various stereometric processes and then the deviations of the 3D prints and 3D scans from the actual data were compared. This led to the conclusion that CT scans are a good way to digitize bones. A maximum deviation of 1.2 mm was recorded, whereby the SLS 3D printing process performed best, as the objects produced with this process look closest to the original.

3D-printed bones as valid evidence in court

The best possible scan quality must be achieved with the CT scan and a certain degree of surface smoothing must be used. In addition, a printing process with a support structure should ideally be used. 3D-printed bones can thus be recognized as valid evidence in court. But this is not the only application of 3D printing in forensics. In addition to 3D-printed bones, the technology can also be used to replicate other evidence to prove or dispute certain theories in court. This would make a lot of forensics easier and take it to a new level.

Police already use 3D printing technology in investigations

In the future, the researchers hope to be able to use 3D printing to treat and solve difficult forensic problems, as this technology has the necessary potential for advances in forensics. In addition to aerospace, art and archeology, it is now time to fight crime with 3D printing. For example, the Japanese police are using 3D printing to create 3D phantom images, the US police are using 3D scanners and the police in Abu Dhabi are also hoping for a lot from additive manufacturing technology. On this page you will always find the latest information and reports on 3D printers in forensics in the future.