3D Printing helps solve crime

  • Nimish Sany
  • 25 July , 2016

After saving lives with bioprinting and breathing life into industries, 3D printing has took on an unlikely task- solve crimes. Police have seeked the help of 3D printing to create the 3D fingerprint of a victim’s iPhone and unlock the phone to find the killer.

Sounds straight out of a thriller, the Police have approached a 3D printing lab at the Michigan State University to 3D print the fingerprint of the victim. The police have, in records, the victim’s fingerprint when he was booked in a previous yet unrelated incident. These fingerprints will be used by Anil Jain, Professor at the lab to 3D scan and print the fingerprint. The police believes unlocking the phone will also unlock the murderer’ identity, but the biometric sensors aboard the victim’s iPhone poses a problem as they require a living body of the victim to activate the phone key, as the sensors scan the fingerprint and the thermal-electrical signals of the thumb simultaneously. However; the Professor and his student Sunpreet Arora, have been able to recreate the fingerprint and bypass the sensors.

3D printed fingerprint of the victim

Image: Dailymail

“We don't know which finger the suspect used, we think it's going to be the thumb or index finger, that's what most people use but we have all ten,” says Professor Jain. It would have been an easier task, if not for the iPhone’s capacitive and radio frequency scans. The tactile capacitive sensors measures the signals when someone touches the screen and the radio frequency scan maps the fingerprint and matches it with the owner’s. The lab has resolved the issue by adding a set of conductive metallic particles under the 3D printed fingerprint. The fingerprint has been 3D printed, but is still being tested and will be sent to the police shortly.

It seems 3D printing has found a new field to flourish in, and perhaps breaking all barriers. 


Nimish Sany: I bleed my thoughts on paper. And if I cant find a paper, blogs serve the purpose just fine.

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