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Non Conventional Fingerprint Development Methods April 10, 2023 - BY RealScan Biometrics

Non Conventional Fingerprint Development Methods

Fingerprint goes about as a superb proof to give an individual specific identity as well as it has tremendous applications in criminal identification.

Apart from regular fingerprint development methods, here we will highlight a few non conventional fingerprint development methods. The reason is their poisonous nature, less accessibility, and excessive cost. We can use non-customary powders like neel powder, incense ash, festival color, fuller’s earth, turmeric powder, talcum powder, corn flour, ranipal, vermilion, henna powder, paper waste ash etc.

These powders can be used on various non-permeable surface and semi-permeable surface for improvement of dormant fingerprints and serve as a good replacement for pricy, hazardous, difficult powders.

What is Fingerprint?

Fingerprint is the impression made by the friction ridges upon any surface. These fingerprints play a vital role in the individualization because they are distinct, categorizable and remain a same throughout a person’s lifetime, and hence these prints are used for comparison purpose.

These fingerprints are examined based on class characteristics (such as pattern type) and individual characteristics (ridge characteristics). 

Class Characteristics

These are the characteristics which categorizes our search in a small group and narrow down the search. These class characteristics are the pattern type in case of fingerprints. These fingerprint pattern can be classified in Arch type, Loop type, Whorl type & Composite.

Arch Type

The pattern in which most of the ridges enter from one side of the pattern and exist on the opposite site. About 5% population have this type of pattern. It can be further divided into plain arch pattern & tented arch pattern.

Loop Type

The pattern in which one or more ridges enter on either side of the impression, make a sufficient recurve, and exit from the same side of the impression. This pattern has only one delta and one core, minimum ridge count between core and delta and a sufficient re-curve around the point of core. It can be further divided into ulnar loop & radial loop pattern. About 60-62% population have this type of pattern.

Whorl Type

When the ridges re-curve in a circular manner and at least one ridge makes a complete circuit around the point of core. This pattern have two deltas and the line joining of two deltas must touch and cross at least one of the recurving ridge in the pattern area. About 30-35% population have this type of pattern.


About 1% population have this type of pattern and this can be further classified into 4 categories. These are lateral pocket loop, central pocket loop, twinned loop & accidental.

Individual characteristics

They are the tiny irregularities found within the friction ridges and are referred to as Galton’s details or Minutiae. These characteristics are unique to an individual. They are:

  • Bifurcation
  • Ridge ending
  • Trifurcation
  • Enclosure
  • Lake
  • Short ridge
  • Fork
  • Bridge 
  • Ridge crossing

Factors Affecting Fingerprint Development

The development of fingerprint depends on the different factors like-

  • Fineness of powder
  • Adherence property
  • Contrast with surface

Conventional v/s Non-Conventional Powder Techniques

Conventional Techniques

A variety of optical, chemical, and physical development techniques are used to make fingerprints visible. The fingerprint experts utilize a variety of traditional methods to find fingerprints on various surfaces. These techniques are

  • Powder methods (black powder, grey powder, magnetic powder & Fluorescent powder)
  • Chemical methods (Ninhydrin method, silver nitrate method etc.) & 
  • Fuming methods (iodine fuming method, cyanoacrylate method, Vacuum metal deposition method)

Non-Conventional Techniques

We attempt to use non-conventional powders instead of conventional ones because they are readily available, inexpensive, and non-toxic in nature. These powders give good result and showing proper and clear ridge details on most of the surfaces. And used in place of conventional laboratory powders as an alternative in future. 

Fuller’s earth (bleaching clay)

Fuller's earth is a clay-like substance made up primarily of aluminium magnesium silicate. Fuller's earth is any fine-grained, naturally occurring earthy substance with a significant ability to absorb impurities or coloring bodies from fats, grease, or oils. Fuller's earth is finer compare to other soils that’s why it gives better result as compare to other soil in fingerprint development.

Henna Powder (Lawsonia Inermis)

During festival occasions, wedding celebrations, for the purpose of dying the hair, and for body art as a fashion trend, every Indian family uses one of the naturally occurring materials. This is usually available in the form of powder and can be used to easily intensify the prints. However, before applying the powder ensure that it is completely dry and free of moisture.

Neel Powder (Blue Powder)

Neel Powder is widely used in many households to keep clothes in good condition and is easily accessible to everyone. It is a fine powder with a blue hue.                                      

Turmeric Powder (Curcuma Longa)

One of the most widely used spices in Indian households is turmeric. It is golden in color and traditionally used in Food flavoring and as a natural coloring agent derived from the Rhizome of the plant. It give good quality prints.

Incense Ash

The remains of the incense stick that was burned is known as incense ash. And it is inexpensively accessible everywhere. Additionally, it produces fingerprints of high quality, making it the best approach for identifying fingerprints.

Festival Colors

Festive color is the original name given to the colored powder used during Hindu celebrations and religious rituals as well as during Holi, the Festival of Colors. They come in a variety of colors and easily available everywhere. Festive colors in the form of powder can be used to lift or develop fingerprint from the surface such as steel surface, aluminium surface, glass, wood surface, tile surface etc. 


This leads to the conclusion that these unusual powders, which are employed to create latent fingerprints, are widely accessible, inexpensive, and present in every Indian Home.

Investigation officers can quickly utilize these commonplace unorthodox powders to develop fingerprint impressions if a crime has occurred and they arrived at a scene without any powders for fingerprint development.

In comparison to traditional powder, unconventional powders are non-toxic and relatively simple to utilize.

Even unusual powders produce superior outcomes on surfaces for latent fingerprint development. With the majority of non-conventional powders, clear ridge details could be seen, and in some cases, third level ridge details could be seen.

There is no single powder that is suitable for all substrates. Due of the expense and toxicity of traditional processes, these powders are significantly more efficient.

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