Suitability of 3D printing cranial trauma: prospective novel applications and limitations of 3D replicas

Rachael Carew, James French, Ruth M. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


3D printed reconstructions of skeletal material offer a novel, interactive and increasingly used tool to support courtroom testimony and aid juror interpretation of expert testimony. While research has begun to address the accuracy of 3D printed skeletal material, there has been little consideration of the diverse applications of prints to support trauma demonstrations, particularly in relation to gunshot trauma. This study explored the suitability of three printed human crania replicas exhibiting either gunshot trauma or blunt force trauma for identifying whether the prints were sufficiently accurate for the presentation of trauma wounds. The data indicate that metric measurement and qualitative assessment of trauma macromorphology was possible from the 3D printed reconstructions. The findings also offer an indication that it is possible to obtain data around the accuracy of 3D printing bullet wounds and for establishing a bullet path. However, some limitations of prints reconstructed from post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT) data were identified including the observation that not all fracture lines were successfully replicated which indicates that at present virtual models should be used concurrently with 3D prints in court.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100218
Number of pages10
JournalForensic Science International: Reports
Early online date3 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


  • Forensic anthropology
  • 3D imaging
  • 3D modelling
  • 3D printing
  • Evidence reconstruction
  • Trauma


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