Exploring public perceptions of creating and using 3D printed human remains

Rachael Carew, James French, Carolyn Rando, Ruth M. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
75 Downloads (Pure)


3D printed human remains offer an alternative presentation format to traditional photographs, that could be more effective and less emotive. However, the perception of the public regarding key questions, such as the use, ownership, and disposal of 3D printed remains in courts of law has not yet been established. This study explored whether the creation of 3D printed human remains could be considered as an ethical practice by members of the public. A survey comprised of 36 questions was designed to gather responses from members of the public (n = 400) about their attitudes to the creation and use of 3D printed human remains. A majority of respondents believed it was ethical to use 3D prints in courtroom demonstrations (more than 90%) and that this may help jurors to better understand expert testimony over photographs. Respondents also indicated that the context of the case and whether consent had been received from next of kin were important considerations. The results of this study indicate that there is a recognition that there is a direct connection between 3D printed remains and the individual from whom a print derives, and that there is a clear public interest in ensuring that prints are used ethically and responsibly. Yet there are currently no guidelines for what constitutes best ethical practice for the creation and utilisation of 3D prints. As we look forward, there is a need to identify how best to treat 3D printed remains with dignity and respect in casework in a manner that is also contextually appropriate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100314
Number of pages10
JournalForensic Science International: Reports
Early online date2 Mar 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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