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What are the Different Types of Fingerprint Equipment?

By Klaus Strasser
Updated May 16, 2024
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Fingerprint equipment generally refers to various tools and devices that are used to collect, identify, classify, or compare fingerprints. For example, forensic science investigators can use this equipment to collect evidence from a crime scene. Other applications can include security and hobbies. There are many different types of fingerprint equipment, such as ink, pads, paper, magnetic strips, and fiberglass brushes.

Fingerprints are the impressions made by the epidermal ridges on a human fingertip. Since every individual has unique fingerprints, they can be an invaluable tool for investigative purposes. Fingerprinting has been used to identify individuals for a very long time. The science of fingerprinting is also known as dactyloscopy.

Ink is a common substance that is employed to collect fingerprints. The type of ink used can be important, as different inks have different properties. For example, certain inks may dry quickly, which can mean that they are less susceptible to smearing. This can be very important when trying to collect the most accurate set of prints. Two of the most common kinds of ink used in fingerprinting are porelon and black printers’ ink. Fingerprint equipment, such as inkpads, ink strips, and ink rollers all use ink to collect fingerprints.

Fingerprint ink strips generally consist of two strips of plastic between which ink is placed. One strip is removed to collect the prints. Many of these strips specify the maximum number of prints they can collect. This type of equipment is often used for gathering prints at a crime scene.

As the name implies, an ink roller is a roller, with an attached handle, that is covered in ink. These resemble a common paint roller, and the ink is applied in a similar manner. Many rollers have a folding or retractable handle, which prevents the roller from contacting a surface when not in use.

Entire fingerprint kits may be purchased. These can consist of a wide variety of items, such as inkpads, magnifying glasses, and brushes. Some kits may include canned air, which may be used to clear away dust. This allows the dactyloscopist to acquire a cleaner sample of prints. Many also include a foldable fingerprint table, on which the equipment can be placed.

Biometric devices are a type of fingerprint equipment used for security purposes. Using these, a fingerprint register of authorized personnel is kept on file by a central computer. By scanning the fingerprints of a person, the computer can compare his prints to the register, and grant the individual access to a location, or not.

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Discussion Comments
By hamje32 — On Aug 31, 2011

@miriam98 - Fingerprints are indeed useful for security, but they are not foolproof.

People usually want to see fingerprint evidence in a crime scene because they think that it's the last word.

Unfortunately, in most criminal cases the fingerprint – or forensic – evidence is rarely good enough to positively identify a criminal. I don’t know if this is because the fingerprints are smudged or what, but this is what I learned when I served on jury duty.

The prosecutor in this criminal trial explained that they had gathered fingerprint evidence from the crime scene but that it was inconclusive, so she tried to tamp down the jury’s expectations. Fingerprints rarely provide the smoking gun that many jurors are looking for.

By miriam98 — On Aug 31, 2011

@NathanG - In addition to the standalone biometric reader you mentioned, you can also buy a fingerprint keyboard.

It has the fingerprint reader built in to the unit so it’s more convenient. Personally, I think that in the very near future these keyboard units will become standard, and no one will log in the old way anymore. I can’t see why anyone would want to.

By NathanG — On Aug 30, 2011

We have a biometric fingerprint reader at work. We use it to do a fingerprint log in instead of typing our user name and password like before.

I have to admit, when I first used it, it was somewhat annoying. You have to spend some time training the reader so that it recognizes your fingerprint.

Also, if you don’t swipe your finger correctly you will get an error message telling you that you need to try again. You have to swipe your finger a certain way, with a clean swipe, for it to read it properly.

Now that I have it working correctly however it’s second nature. I never log in the old way anymore.

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