Magnetic Particle Recovery of Serial Numbers

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One method used by crime labs to recover obliterated serial numbers in steel firearms (ferrous samples) is the magnetic particle technique. The use of this method is predicated on the detection of metal deformation present under stamped serial numbers after the visible stamp has been removed. Equipment specialized for this detection is not used in these attempts; a portable magnetic yoke used typically for flaw detection on large weldments or structures, along with dry visible magnetic powders, have been the tools of criminologists working in this area. Crime labs have reported low success rates using these tools [1, 2]. This ... continued below

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Utrata, D. & Johnson, M.J. October 1, 2003.

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Description

One method used by crime labs to recover obliterated serial numbers in steel firearms (ferrous samples) is the magnetic particle technique. The use of this method is predicated on the detection of metal deformation present under stamped serial numbers after the visible stamp has been removed. Equipment specialized for this detection is not used in these attempts; a portable magnetic yoke used typically for flaw detection on large weldments or structures, along with dry visible magnetic powders, have been the tools of criminologists working in this area. Crime labs have reported low success rates using these tools [1, 2]. This is not surprising when one considers that little formal development has apparently evolved for use in such investigations since the publication of seminal work in this area some time ago [3]. The aim of this project is to investigate specific aspects of magnetic particle inspection for serial number recovery. This includes attempts to understand the magnetic characteristics of different steels that affect their performance in the test, such as varying results for carbon steels and alloy steels after different thermal and forming treatments. Also investigated are the effects of the nature of the sample magnetization (AC, rectified DC, and true DC) and the use of various detection media, such as visible powders and fluorescent sprays, on test outcome. Additionally, some aspects of surface preparation of firearm samples prior to number recovery were included in this work. The scope of this report includes a brief overview of the magnetic particle inspection method in general and its applications to forensic serial number recovery. This is followed by a description of how such investigations were simulated on lab samples, including a look at how the microstructure of a given steel will affect its performance in the test. Investigations into the serial number recovery in a series of ferromagnetic firearms (both steel and certain stainless steels) will then be presented. Recommendations for modifications to current approaches used in crime labs for serial number recovery, as well as suggestions for future work, conclude this document.

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OSTI as DE00832893

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1 Oct 2003

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  • Report No.: IS-5159
  • Grant Number: W-7405-Eng-82
  • DOI: 10.2172/832893 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 832893
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc783204

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  • October 1, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • Feb. 2, 2016, 5:06 p.m.

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Utrata, D. & Johnson, M.J. Magnetic Particle Recovery of Serial Numbers, report, October 1, 2003; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc783204/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.