Apr. 20, 2015 | By Simon

Of all the wild and crazy concepts we’ve seen 3D printers be used for outside of what might be seen as “traditional craft” or “rapid prototyping”, being used to solve a crime isn’t something we’ve necessarily heard of - at least publicly.  

Yet with this being the era of readily-accessible 3D printers, it should come with little surprise that aside from creating the latest Martha Stewart houseware or helicopter engine component, the technology has now branched out into the world of legal proceedings and has helped solve a crime in the UK.  According to the BBC, a 3D printed bottle was recently used in the trial of a man was later convicted of murdering a teenager.

City College Plymouth, a higher education school in Southwest England, was recently called upon by the local court to fabricate a replica of the weapon that was thought to be used in the murder by suspected convict Lee Dent, 42.  

According to the prosecutors, footballer Alex Peguero Sosa, 17, was murdered after Dent stabbed him in the neck with a broken bottle in July of 2014.  The confrontation began when the two “squared each other up at a taxi rank” according to the BBC.  According to Devon and Cornwall police, it was the first time that the technology has been used to help solve a crime.    

Alex Peguero Sosa, 17

Representatives from City College Plymouth said that the creation of the reproduced murder weapon took over 28 hours to print on their Cubex 3D printer, which is manufactured by 3D Systems.  Previously, the college had used the 3D printer for creating prototypes for various college courses or to print repair parts for equipment - however this was the first time that it had been used for forensic crime solving.    

Lee Dent, 42

"Thanks to the replica of the murder weapon they produced, the prosecution was able to safely ask the defendant to demonstrate how he had held the bottle when he struck the victim,” said Detective Inspector Ian Ringrose of the Devon and Cornwall Police.

"It allowed the barrister, Simon Laws QC, to closely cross examine him on this aspect of his evidence.  This was the first time we had used this technological approach, and the use of it in court helped to fully explain the facts."

Crime Scene

Although it remains unclear exactly how the 3D printed replica was used in the courtroom to explain the attack, the use of 3D printing for solving forensic crime makes perfect sense - especially with objects that may have been broken or otherwise damaged as a part of a crime.  

Could the use of 3D printing - and subsequently, 3D scanning - be the future of not only manufacturing products on demand, but also solving crimes?  If this example is any indication, then yes.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Jay wrote at 4/21/2015 6:29:09 PM:

huh? Lovely I'm a conspiracy theorist at heart but this was pretty much an open-shut cast. The defendant admitted he hit the victim but the bottle broke...they used the bottle to prove that if he had indeed struck with the unbroken bottle (that subsequently broke) there was no way the injury would have been the same. C'mon...pick and choose your battles girl....This isn't the one to jump on. They're MUCH better things than standing up for this wanker... Jay

lovely wrote at 4/21/2015 2:34:05 AM:

"replica of the murder weapon" AKA lets 3D print some fake "evidence" and call it a replica. Anything to make the show to convict people.

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