Laboratory Equipment

It is necessary to equip a forensic laboratory equipped with modern scientific instruments to ensure problems can be thoroughly investigated and that test results will be reliable. Forensic Document Examination Services possesses equipment needed to deal with even the most complex document problems. Included in its inventory are the following:

Video-Spectral Comparator (VSC-1)

The VSC-1 and VSC-4CX are instruments designed to detect the different optical properties of document materials. Unlike the VSC-1, the VSC-4CX is a portable instrument that can be taken outside the laboratory to examine documents in law offices, court rooms or other off-site locations.

VSC testing is non-destructive and does not alter the appearance or condition of a document. These instruments are particularly effective at detecting alterations to documents, restoring erased entries, revealing original writing that has been obliterated, obscured or overwritten and differentiating inks that cannot otherwise be distinguished by the naked eye.

Inks from different writing instruments often react differently when illuminated with ultraviolet and infrared light. These differences can easily be detected with the VSC-1 and VSC-2CX.


Quality Optical Microscopes

The most important instrument in the document examiner's arsenal is the optical microscope. Usually, critical evidence attesting to the genuine or spurious nature of a questioned document cannot be seen by the naked eye.  The stereo-microscope provides a 3-dimensional view of an area of interest. 

Some stereo-microscopes are manufactured to lower standards. FDES only uses high quality instruments to examine document evidence.

Despite their ability to inspect 3-dimensional objects, stereo-microscopes cannot generate highly magnified images often needed to determine which of two intersecting entries was made first. A binocular microscope equipped with coaxial illumination is better suited for this purpose.


Electro-Static Detection Apparatus (ESDA)

The Electro-Static Detection Apparatus (ESDA) provides the document examiner with a non-destructive technique for detecting impressions in paper that are invisible to the naked eye. The ESDA can also reveal the relative sequence of entries in ledgers, journals or medical records.

FDES specialists use this instrument to restore handwritten impressions on anonymous letters and detect documents that have been fraudulently altered or back-dated. Restored impressions are preserved using adhesive-coated acetate sheets.

Miscellaneous Equipment

Light Sources

The application of chemical eradicators, the removal of information with erasers or the application of foreign adhesives can affect the fluorescence of document materials. FDES experts use short and long wave ultraviolet light sources to detect the presence of erasures and to locate foreign adhesives used when repairing documents or resealing envelopes. Written entries erased by chemicals or erasers and the application of adhesives can often be restored by examining suspect documents under ultraviolet light.
 Fiber optic light guides
 Ultraviolet (fluorescent) lighting
 Ring light illuminators
 Infrared (tungsten)

Calibrated Measuring Devices

Altered multi-page documents can contain substituted pages which replace those that have been removed. Typewriting added to a document is usually misaligned with other typewritten information on the page. FDES employ calibrated micrometers and rulers to measure paper dimensions accurately. Typewriter measuring grids are used to detect misaligned typed characters.

Some equipment, such as the ESDA, must be operated in a controlled environment to achieve optimum results.  Ambient  conditions are closely monitored and maintained within acceptable limits to ensure accurate results.

. Graticule eyepieces
  Typewriter grids

Digital Imaging System 

Digital imaging technology provides a fast and cost-effective alternative to capturing and storing document images by using conventional photographic techniques.

FDES employs digital cameras and flat-bed scanners to record and preserve the contents of documents. Once images are captured, digital filters can be used to restore obscured information on a disputed document. Images viewed through a microscope are recorded with analog or digital cameras. Dye-sublimation, inkjet and laser printers are used to generate photo-quality color prints.

  Flatbed scanners
  Digital cameras
  Frame grabbers
  Adobe Photoshop Software
  Image Pro Plus Software