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What are the Different Types of Fingerprinting Equipment?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 16, 2024
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The different types of fingerprinting equipment are fairly straightforward, and may include ink, chemical dusting powder, chemical paper, and a trained person to take the fingerprints. LiveScan options may also be performed using an approved machine. Any person responsible for taking fingerprints should be trained in getting the most accurate print on each finger, as well as in dusting for prints in certain situations.

When taking fingerprints from a person directly, ink is one type of fingerprinting equipment that may be used. In most cases, a specialized type of ink may be used to avoid smudges and other marks that may alter the final print. The fingers should be rolled across the ink pad from bottom to top, with the ink pad being at forearm’s height to the person being printed. He or she should not take his or her own prints.

Chemical paper is another type of fingerprinting equipment. Chemicals in the paper may react with the ink to create a smoother and more defined print. This is especially important for instances when the print will be compared to others within a database, or with prints found at a specific location.

Dust is another type of fingerprinting equipment, and it is used when looking for fingerprints at a crime scene. Items and surfaces are covered with fingerprinting dust, which contains chemicals which cause it to stick to areas that have been touched. This is caused by a reaction between the dust and the oils and other chemicals left behind by the person who last touched the surface. Prints taken in this manner can then be compared to those taken by suspects or to a database of anyone who has been printed by the police.

Another one of the different types of fingerprinting equipment is a LiveScan device. This is a piece of machinery that allows a person’s fingerprints to be taken without the use of ink and paper. The finger is placed onto a scanner and is then copied and incorporated into a database. Oftentimes the fingerprint can also be printed onto paper.

When evaluating fingerprints, investigators look for various defining marks. Every human being has a unique fingerprint, and no two are exactly the same. There are similar patterns, however, with specific focal points being the areas where differences are most noticeable. These focal points may be different with each person, and two fingerprints may be very similar, but never identical. To effectively identify a person through fingerprint analysis, a trained person must tediously look for these focal points or use a computer software program that can accurately compare prints.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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