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Law Enforcement to Recreate Vehicle Accidents with 3D Printing

Picture of Anne Freier
by Anne Freier
Jan 10, 2018

Meanwhile in Canada, 3D technologies are gaining in popularity among law enforcement officials to help recreate crime and accident scenes.

3D printers are not just for industrial application or hobby use. Law enforcement has found another use for the technology by reconstructing crime scenes.

Canada’s federal police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), plans to integrate 3D printing into building models of car accidents. Last week, the RCMP issued a bid for a 3D printer with the government. According to some reports, it plans to buy a total four printers by 2020.

RCMP currently uses 3D scanning technology to create digital images of accidents. Until now, however, it hasn’t been able to construct full models of them.

Specifically, the printer will be used by the RCMP’s Integrated Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Service (ICARS). ICARS focuses on the forensic reconstruction of vehicle collisions that result in serious injuries or even death.

In combination, the technologies enable ICARS to scan and recreate a version of the scene and the cars involved, according to a spokesperson. These models can then be used in court to more accurately portray how a collision occurred.

Mark Barfoot, the managing director at the Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Lab at the University of Waterloo, says that 3D printing can be used to recreate “the way the car crumpled, the way the buildings were, the way the trees were, and then basically have a scale model for the jury to see. It’s a little bit easier for juries to understand than a flat kind of drawing.”


Law Enforcement Investigations Enhanced with 3D Technologies

If proven successful, 3D printing for crime scene reconstruction could quickly become popular.

However, it’s not the first time that additive manufacturing has been used by police or federal investigators. In 2016 in the United States, Greene County Ohio partnered with Ohio University to 3D print the remains of a victim’s body found in the woods. She had been unidentifiable until police managed to 3D print her skull and identify her with the help of the public.

Whilst this is just one example of many, it’s clear that ever more police counties are picking up 3D technologies to assist their investigations. Both Ottawa and Manitoba RCMP are already using 3D technologies to help with analysis of bullets and recreation of accidents.

3D scanning in particular has been employed more widely in the last five years. This helps to scan accident or crime sites faster and later view them digitally. The advantage is that police can clear such sites much faster without losing valuable clues.

Source: Vancouver Sun


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