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How to Lift Latent Prints with Cyanoacrylate Ester

By Edited Nov 15, 2016 0 1

Cyanoacrylate ester is a forensics tool for lifting latent fingerprints. It is best used for lifting latent prints off of non-porous surfaces such as glass, plastic, laminated paper, etc. In this method the fingerprint will form into a white crust that is easily visible to the naked eye as long as the surface is dark enough to provide contrast. The active ingredients in cyanoacrylate polymerize with the residue of fingerprints during fuming; this is what turns the print into a white crust.

This is an interesting method that deviates from the more commonly known fingerprint lifting techniques, such as dusting. This is a unique way to gain prints on non-porous surfaces.

Things You Will Need


Porcelain plate

Cup of water


Enclosed chamber/fume hood

Oblique light source

Stains or dyes

Gloves for handling the fingerprinted item

Step 1

Prepare an open and well ventilated area to prepare for fingerprint lifting.

Step 2

Dispense a 20mm diameter of superglue(cyanoacrylate) onto small porcelain plate.

Step 3

Place items with latent fingerprints into an enclosed chamber.

Step 4

Place the plate of superglue into the chamber.

Step 5

Add a source of humidity such as a warm cup of water.

Step 6

Humidity should be kept around 80%. This can be monitored by using a hygrometer.

Step 7

Monitor the item often (about every five minutes) to make sure the print is developing as desired and to check on the humidity.

Step 8

After 10 minutes open the enclosed chamber and allow the fumes to escape. Be careful not to breathe them.

Step 9

Remove the item with the finger print on it from the chamber.

Step 10

Use a slanted light source to examine the fingerprint development. Photograph it.

Step 11

Allow item to sit overnight.

Step 12

Apply post-cyanoacrylate forensic dyes or stains to improve the ridge patterns on the latent prints that appeared from the Cyanoacrylate ester process.

Tips & Warnings

Over fuming (leaving the item in the enclosed chamber too long) will ruin fine details of the fingerprint.



Aug 31, 2009 9:23am
Well, I hope that I never have to do something this in-depth... but it's cool to know that I could!! I read this thinking it was going to be in a foreign language to me... but you made this pretty simple!!
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