Vacuum Metal Deposition

In the United Kingdom there exists a superior technology in the recovery of latent fingerprints.  This technology has long been proven to recover prints where no prior processes were able.  These prints are also higher in quality with greater definition when compared to those of other techniques.

This process is called �Vacuum Metal Deposition".  VMD's success is that the process is done at the atomic level.  This means the prints are developed by using the smallest of materials, the atom.  This provides the highest resolution and is able to produce marks with the highest of quality.  The process is effective on the aqueous and sebaceous materials normally found in prints thus making it the preferred process with new evidence as well as evidence that is 20 years old.  Vacuum Metal Deposition is able to recover marks with only trace amounts of substances that compose every print.

Vacuum Metal Deposition is a process where several metals are evaporated onto the evidence while under vacuum.  Only a small amount of metal is necessary and the results are quick with no resulting damage to the rest of the evidence.  VMD will increase the number of arrests and convictions by recovering more and better quality prints.

In tests performed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Department it has been determined that Vacuum Metal Deposition:

develops 100% more fingerprints than Humidity Controlled Superglue

develops 12% more marks than Superglue, Dye Staining and Fluorescence

develops 15% more marks than Vacuum Superglue, Dye Staining and Fluorescence (7 day old evidence)

develops 70% more marks than Vacuum Superglue, Dye Staining and Fluorescence (one month old evidence)

develops 100% more marks than Small Particle Reagent (SPR)

develops identifiable marks on 60% of articles processed

Vacuum Metal Deposition is used best on:
Most smooth, non--porous surfaces
plastic packaging materials,
i.e. polyethylene (trash and sandwich bags)
smooth leather surfaces
photographic negatives and prints
plastic moldings
smooth paper
some smooth fabrics

Vacuum Metal Deposition is now available as a local service.  The company Vacuum Metal Deposition named after the process will be located in the Costa Mesa Police Department which provides a secured area for the service.  The operator, Steve Todd, is a Costa Mesa resident who for many years was responsible for the sales of the equipment in the Southern California area.  While working for his former employer he was approached by the San Diego Police Department Forensics Lab to pursue the service concept.  With a price tag of around $100,000 this eliminates the potential for most law enforcement agencies in the US to purchase the system.  Funding is nearly impossible today with many agencies facing budget cutbacks and restrictions.

Vacuum Metal Deposition� will provide these services for an affordable fee to all the law enforcement agencies as well as special investigative bodies such as the US military police and other investigative agencies.

Steve Todd can be reached through Vacuum Metal Deposition at 714 810--4949.

[Information added February 14, 2007: Steve Todd's current contact information is 714-322-2555 or]


[Ed--� SCAFO members Lisa DiMeo, of San Diego Co. Sheriff's Department, and Diane Donnelly, then with the San Diego Police Department, have both reported successes utilizing VMD on old cases.  In March 1994 Lisa made a presentation to SCAFO on her experience, (see March 1994 issue of The Print).  Now this technology is available locally.   While the service isn't free, it is realistically priced for use on selected cases.   Call Steve for further details and let the rest of us know your results.]

This article was originally published in �THE PRINT�
Volume 11(5), September/October 1995, pg 5
and has been obtained from the online library provided by the

Southern California Association of Fingerprint Officers