Laser stamp reveals gun behind bullet

June 21, 2002 — A laser company has developed a system that will enable forensic scientists to look at a bullet and know which gun fired it, according to the London Daily Telegraph.

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Neuman MicroTechnologies Inc. in New Hampshire has developed micromachining technologies to etch tiny identification marks inside hand weapons, the paper said.

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The mark could be the weapon’s serial number or another unique pattern that would let police consult a central register and match the spent shell directly with the gun that fired it.

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“As a bullet is fired, the mark is stamped on to its shell before it leaves the barrel,” research director Todd Lizotte told the Telegraph. Lizotte uses lasers to etch characters as small as 0.005 millimeters wide on to the firing pins of hand guns. When the trigger is pulled, the pin embosses the design on the bullet.

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In tests, an etched firing pin survived 30,000 cycles and still produced clear marks. The same laser technology could add microscopic identity tags to bomb-making materials so police could identify the source, according to the report.

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