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Assessing the Quality of 3-Dimensional Imaging on the BrassTrax HD3D System and Evaluating an In-Silico Solution to Confirm NIBIN Hits

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2019
11 pages
This is the Final Summary Overview of a project with the goal of examining the possibility of using three-dimensional (3D) imagery for the limited purpose of confirming matches in the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), which was established in 1999 as a means for examiners to find links between previously unrelated gun crimes.

Although previous studies have demonstrated the potential of 3D imagery, none have discussed the use of captured 3D images to affect an in-silico (e.g., on screen) comparison of microscopic characteristics between two imaged specimens (Step 6 of the NIBIN workflow). BrassTrax HD3D - the current input component of the Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS), which is the local component of NIBIN - was deployed in 2015 and provided an upgrade in 3D imaging technology. The current study examined the ability of firearms examiners to conduct match searches with this new technology compared to the traditional method of a microscope comparison. The study relied on the BrassTrax HD3D cartridge case acquisition station, which uses topographic scanning to render a 3D image of a cartridge case surface. The research team experienced a number of set-backs during the project period, such that not all data gathering and analysis was complete at the time of this report. To date, 24,729 comparisons have been made using 3D imagery; 13,606 microscopic comparisons have been conducted, and 9,303 comparisons have been made through 2D images as part of Phase I. The collection of data for Phase II is ongoing. The research team will continue to gather and analyze data through the remainder of the project period, anticipating that research results will be published in the Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners Journal. Reasons for project delays are noted.

Date Published: January 1, 2019