New ballistics-imaging technology, developed by Intelligent Automation, a Rockville, Maryland, engineering firm with funding from the Justice Department, lets forensic scientists capture a fired bullet’s distinctive markings in 3-D for the first time.
The technology, which was featured at the 2006 National Institute of Justice conference here Tuesday, works by projecting white light through a special microscope onto a bullet or its casing. The depth of the marks determines the intensity of the reflected light, which is recorded by a camera.
A computer then generates a 3-D image of, say, a Remington 9-mm slug or a Winchester .44-caliber Magnum round for researchers to pore over. Previously, forensic examiners were limited to flat photos of bullets and casings taken from different angles. But the wrong orientation of the photos can throw off the analysis: An examiner may end up comparing striations from different sides of the bullets. Not with the new technology.