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Fingerprints

Fingerprints are one of many forms of biometrics used to identify individuals and verify their identity. Record your own fingerprints using the main pad and ink as a reference for comparing with the following tests.

You will need:

  • fingerprint ink and pad
  • artist’s brush
  • powder
  • sellotape
  • different surfaces and materials (eg CD, paper, dough, plasticine). 

There are three main ways that people leave fingerprints, and they are examined in different ways:

  • Latent, where the oils from fingers are left on a hard surface like glass or a CD.  Identify fingerprints by dusting the surface to locate the print, lift off with sellotape and compare with originals.
  • Visible, where the fingers have been stained by paint, mud etc and leave a print on the surface.  This can be directly compared with the original ink print.
  • Plastic, where the print is made into a soft surface such as plasticine or dough.  This can also be compared directly with the originals.

There are three main types of fingerprint appearance, which is a starting point for identifying who the print belongs to.  These are arch, whorl and loop.  In the UK, 16 points of reference are used to determine a fingerprint match.

1

Make a finger print on your CD and dust lightly with one of the  powders.

2

Lift off with sellotape and stick on to black paper.

3

Repeat with other powders in turn to assess which is the most effective – you could try flour, chalk, baking soda, fine sand…