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Evaluation of Magnetic and Nonmagnetic Fingerprint Powders on Ceramic Materials

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Identification Volume: 53 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2003 Pages: 162-168
James A. Bailey
Date Published
March 2003
7 pages
This study was conducted to evaluate the quality of latent prints collected from the surface of glazed ceramics by using magnetic fingerprint powder and nonmagnetic fingerprint powder.
For this study, 20 cups were obtained from vendors who were selling used ceramics. The sampling included cups of various qualities. Each cup was washed and wiped dry before testing. The hands of an adult female were dipped in distilled water to obtain the same amount of residue on each finger, and the hands were allowed to dry for 5 minutes. A latent print was placed inside a marked area on the cup. The cups were kept in a room at about 70 degrees F for 2 hours before they were dusted for latent prints by using Bi-Chromatic Powder and Bi-Chromatic Magnetic Powder. The nonmagnetic powder was applied with a camelhair brush, and the magnetic powder was applied with a magnetic wand, allowing only the powder to contact the surface. The magnetic powder produced superior quality latent prints; whereas, the nonmagnetic powder did not, even taking into consideration that more magnetic powder adhered to the surface of the ceramics. The magnetic powder produced adequate ridge detail on 35 percent of the cups processed and excellent ridge detail on 15 percent of the cups processed. Although the magnetic fingerprint powder performed better in this experiment on ceramic materials, crime-scene technicians should test the effects on ceramic evidence before selecting a particular method. 1 table, 5 figures, and 7 references