Jan 9, 2018 | By Tess

While many people worry about the security and criminal risks of 3D printing technologies (what with 3D printed guns, safe breakers, etc.), additive manufacturing is also being used to fight crime.

In Canada, the British Columbia Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has announced its plans to acquire its first 3D printer, which it will use to recreate models of crime scenes to be used in court.

According to local press, the 3D printer will primarily be used by the RCMP’s integrated collision analysis and reconstruction service (ICARS) for recreating small-scale models of vehicular accidents. If the technology proves useful within that context, the RCMP plans to invest in an additional four 3D printers over the next two years and could expand the technology’s applications in the force.

The co-founder of local 3D printing company Tinkerine, Eugene Suyu, said that the RCMP is seeking to adopt professional-grade desktop 3D printers, the likes of which normally cost about $2,500.

Using its existing 3D scanning technology, the ICARS unit says it will be able to capture high-resolution images of a collision or other vehicle-based accidents, transform the scan data into a 3D model, and ultimately 3D print that model for better clarity in court. The 3D printed model will be presented in combination with other digital images of the crime scene.

“The use of both technologies will allow ICARS to ‘scan’ and create an exact replica of the scene and the involved vehicles,” said an ICARS representative. “This will further enhance ICARS’ ability to determine and demonstrate to the courts the angles of vehicles during the collision, which is important in calculating speeds.”

In other words, the 3D printed models could help to analyze how an accident occurred. Every element of the scene, including how the car or cars are damaged, and how the surrounding buildings or trees were at the time could give insight to a jury.

Even just having a three-dimensional model, explained Mark Barfoot, the managing director of a 3D printing center at the University of Waterloo, would give the jury a better idea of the accident than 2D images or drawings, which are commonly used.

Within Canada, this could be the first time that 3D printing will be used in this way, and specialists believe that the technology’s role within the RCMP and other crime fighting forces will only continue to grow.

3D scanning, for its part, has already been recognized as an extremely useful technology within Canadian crime fighting forces, and it has been used by various divisions for a number of different applications.

One of the benefits of using 3D scanning, said Barfoot, is the ability to capture a whole crime scene without having to worry that a detail may be passed over, as is the case with regular photography. In line with this, 3D scanning can allow officials to clear and clean a crime scene faster.

That is, rather than wait for forensic specialists to photograph, sketch, and analyze bits of a crime scene, a 3D scanning system can be used to quickly capture the scene so that it can be cleared in haste.

In other places, 3D printing and other 3D technologies are already being used as criminal investigation resources. In the United States, for instance, a 3D scanner was used to recreate the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2016.

Even more recently, 3D printing enabled Ohio officials to reconstruct the face of an unidentified woman who had been murdered. Amazingly, the 3D printed reconstruction helped the woman be identified, and a suspect was charged for the crime.

Clearly, there is a place in the crime fighting world for additive manufacturing.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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