This report updates a 2016 landscape study intended to inform the forensic community about the emerging application of 3D imaging technology to firearms identification in the crime laboratory.
Since the original report, the firearms examiner community has evaluated this technology in the crime laboratory and considered how this may be implemented into their workflows. Although 3D imaging technologies may provide value to numerous applications within the impression and pattern evidence community, this report focuses on the application of 3D toolmark technologies and virtual comparison microscopy (VCM) to cartridge case and bullet examination. Although yet to be fully integrated into many agencies, some state, local, and federal agencies, including the FBI, are using these instruments in their casework. This update is meant to summarize collective thinking around how 3D imaging technologies may be deployed in firearms and toolmarks units, how the technology has developed to meet the needs of the examiners, and gaps that may limit its adoption. This 2022 update discusses the advancements in 3D imaging for firearms identification that have been rapidly developing in the years following the 2016 landscape study. Specifically, it describes VCM and it’s applications in more detail, along with how the field has addressed concerns cited in the original landscape study regarding areas of improvement