An ethical framework for the creation and use of 3D printed human remains in crime reconstruction

Rachael Carew, James French, Ruth M. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


There is currently a lack of clear guidance setting out ethical best practice in 3D forensic science broadly, and for 3D printing human remains specifically. This paper presents nine ethical principles identified by Carew et al. [4,7] that provide a foundation for establishing ethical practice. The relevance of the nine key normative ethics principles (justice transparency, proportionality, beneficence, context, non-maleficence, anonymity, consent, and autonomy) is outlined, and a hierarchical ethics framework is presented that sets out a synthesis of these nine principles at societal, case, and task levels. This framework sets out key principles to be considered at different stages in the forensic science process and in operational planning, as well as identifying the accountability of key decision makers at each stage. The hierarchical ethics framework provides an adaptive tool that forensic actors can use in practice, to take each ethical principle into consideration and develop best ethical practice, that ensures 3D printed human remains are created and used in an ethical manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100319
Number of pages5
JournalForensic Science International: Reports
Early online date10 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.


  • Forensic science
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Virtual anthropology
  • 3D printing
  • Ethics
  • Human remains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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