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Crime Lab in a Suitcase
August 28, 2015   
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Researchers at the Moratex Institute of Security Technology in the central city of ŁódĽ have designed a mobile forensics laboratory that enables police to collect fingerprints more efficiently at the scene of a crime.

Crime detection experts traditionally use stationary forensics laboratories for analyzing fingerprints. These have small chambers into which objects can be placed. However, often investigators have to recover fingerprints left in a car or on some other large object, which until recently involved physically removing parts of such objects and delivering them to the stationary lab. Aside from the damage caused, there was the possibility of contaminating evidence while handling the object in question.

A better, more foolproof method was needed. This inspired the Moratex researchers to design a mobile forensics lab that enables investigators to work regardless of the size of the object and the area where it is located.

Moratex has been in existence for 62 years, conducting research concerning security. Its innovative mobile forensics lab features a special water- and oil-resistant industrial fabric that ensures airtightness and resistance to mechanical damage, sunlight and temperature. It is compact and fits easily into a suitcase.

The main part of the lab is a pneumatic tent that can be erected quickly, directly over the object under scrutiny. The lab is ready for use in 30 to 40 minutes from the time the desired conditions, including humidity and temperature, are created in the operating zone of the tent.

The lab ensures highly accurate results, says project manager Elżbieta Witczak, Ph.D., director of Moratex. Two versions of the tent have been developed: a large one 7.5 meters long and a medium-sized one of 3.2 meters. They can be combined to enable examination of objects almost 11 meters long.

To make sure that chemicals used in the process do not leak outside the lab, Moratex experts placed a second tent inside the primary tent that is the main component of the mobile lab. The internal tent is inexpensive and can easily be replaced in case of mechanical, thermal or chemical damage or simply if it becomes dirty.

The mobile lab is protected by a patent and has won a string of awards, including a silver medal at the 112th Concours Lépine International Fair of Inventions in Paris in 2013, a gold medal at the Eureka 2013 International Exhibition of Innovation in Brussels; a gold medal at the British Invention Show (BIS) in London last year; and a gold medal at the Inova Croatia 2014 International Exhibition of Inventions in Osijek, Croatia.

In addition to Moratex, the scientific-industrial consortium that worked on the project included the Central Forensic Laboratory of the Polish Police in Warsaw, security equipment manufacturer Przedsiębiorstwo Sprzętu Ochronnego Maskpol, and the Stanimex company from the eastern city of Lublin.

The project was coordinated by the National Police Headquarters and financed by the National Center for Research and Development as part of its Defense and Security program.
Danuta K. Gruszczyńska

Moratex et al.

The Moratex Institute of Security Technology in ŁódĽ is a research and development center supervised by the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration. It conducts scientific research and develops products for personal security and health protection. These products are intended for use in the police force, the Government Protection Bureau (BOR), fire brigades, border guard services, and the armed forces. Moratex introduces modern designs and textile technology for use in uniforms and technical equipment. It evaluates and tests products for the needs of homeland security in terms of their strength, functionality, physical properties, usefulness for medical purposes, size, weight and combustibility.

Maskpol, based in Konieczki in the southern province of Silesia, is a producer of equipment for protection against weapons of mass destruction and toxic industrial substances as well as protective clothing and equipment for the military and police, security services and industrial enterprise. Maskpol’s key products are combat and police helmets, bulletproof vests and protective garment. Stanimex produces and sells crime scene investigation equipment and materials for crime detection.
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