Independent Fingerprint Technology Evaluation Reveals Operational Benefits of the RECOVER® process




Launched late last year, RECOVER® fingerprint technology is capable of revealing “previously difficult or impossible” fingerprints on metallic surfaces.

Now, as the subject of an independent comparative evaluation conducted by an accredited UK government laboratory, the RECOVER® process has been shown to outperform other techniques, including VMD and cyanoacrylate fuming, on a wide variety of metallic evidence types.


Superior Technology for a wide range of applications

A peer-reviewed paper published in the Science & Justice journal by representatives of the Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST), Loughborough University, Foster+Freeman Ltd., and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), compares the RECOVER technique against other leading processes for the visualisation of fingerprints on metals exposed to a range of environments.

Notably, the study reveals RECOVER to be the superior technique for the development of prints on several significant evidence types that have been:

  • Exposed to high temperatures (consistent with fired bullet casings)
  • Purposely washed clean in a bid to erase evidence
  • Submerged in a liquid, for example, artefacts that may have been discarded in a body of water


View the Published Paper Online


bullet fingerprints on IED fragments Fingermarks on a washed knife blade

Fired Ammunition

Fired bullet cartridges are notoriously difficult to retrieve ‘usable’ prints from. RECOVER may yield fingerprints of incredibly high quality.

IED Fragments

The original RECOVER application, prints can be visualised on metals exposed to extreme heat and deformation, including Improvised Explosive Device (IED) fragments.

Cleaned Surfaces

Even when an item of evidence has been washed clean, or submerged for an extended period of time, RECOVER may still retrieve identifiable prints.

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science and justice journal 

A comparative evaluation of the disulfur dinitride process for the visualisation of fingermarks on metal surfaces

S.M. Bleay, P.F. Kelly, R.S.P. King, S.G. Thorngate

Science & Justice

Available Online 3 July 2019

Article in Press

Published Paper: Selected Highlights


The Published paper is now available to view online, PDF copies may be requested from Foster + Freeman.

The full (38-page) paper describes in great detail the many benefits of the RECOVER technology, highlights of which can be found below:



The paper evaluates the effectiveness of the RECOVER process on a range of operationally significant metal surfaces, with performance compared against existing processes including VMD, Superglue, Gun Blueing, and Powder Suspensions.



In a 36-mark depletion test, RECOVER continued to develop marks of identifiable quality from the first to the 36th mark, and developed the highest combined totals of all processes graded. 3rd level ridge detail was developed across the depletion series.


Effects of Cleaning

RECOVER is the only process that developed potentially identifiable marks on every metal type, for almost every ageing period tested. On copper-based alloys, the effectiveness of the RECOVER process appears to increase the longer that the mark remains on the surface. On stainless steel, RECOVER appears considerably more effective than other processes.



RECOVER has been found to be an effective process for the visualisation of fingermarks on the range of metal surfaces studied. Of the processes investigated in this comparison, RECOVER was the most consistent in visualising marks across the range of exposure conditions investigated



RECOVER fingerprints versus vmd

microscopic view of fingermark

Sensitive fingerprint development technique

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