Fingermark visualisation on metal surfaces: An initial investigation of the influence of surface condition on process effectiveness

M. Pitera, V. G. Sears, S. M. Bleay, S. Park

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Fingermark recovery from metal surfaces is an area of operational interest, both from the association of metals with weapons used in violent crime and from the increasing incidence in metal theft. This paper reports a feasibility study into the effectiveness of a range of fingermark visualisation processes in developing fingermarks on clean metals (brass, bronze and stainless steel), and on the same metals after prolonged exposure to an outdoor environment. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to investigate how the surface type and condition could influence the development of fingermarks for each of the processes used. It was found that the behaviour observed varied between each of the processes (cyanoacrylate fuming, Lumicyano™, gun blueing and carbon-based powder suspension). In some cases the chemical composition of the surface affected the development of the mark more than the surface condition, and in other cases the reverse was true. The best performing processes differed according to the surface type and condition, with cyanoacrylate fuming processes working best on brass and bronze, and powder suspensions being better on stainless steel. These preliminary results reinforce the need to take into account both surface type and condition before selection of the most effective fingermark visualisation process and demonstrate the value of techniques such as SEM in developing a fundamental understanding of the interactions between fingermarks and surfaces.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)372-383
    Number of pages12
    JournalScience & Justice
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


    • Fingermarks
    • Metal composition
    • Scanning electron microscopy
    • Surface condition
    • Visualisation


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