Reverse Engineering—Rapid Prototyping of the Skull in Forensic Trauma Analysis


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Mattias Kettner, M.D.
Institute of Forensic Medicine
Center of Legal Medicine
Goethe-University Frankfurt/M.
Kennedyallee 104
60596 Frankfurt/M.


Abstract:  Rapid prototyping (RP) comprises a variety of automated manufacturing techniques such as selective laser sintering (SLS), stereolithography, and three-dimensional printing (3DP), which use virtual 3D data sets to fabricate solid forms in a layer-by-layer technique. Despite a growing demand for (virtual) reconstruction models in daily forensic casework, maceration of the skull is frequently assigned to ensure haptic evidence presentation in the courtroom. Owing to the progress in the field of forensic radiology, 3D data sets of relevant cases are usually available to the forensic expert. Here, we present a first application of RP in forensic medicine using computed tomography scans for the fabrication of an SLS skull model in a case of fatal hammer impacts to the head. The report is intended to show that this method fully respects the dignity of the deceased and is consistent with medical ethics but nevertheless provides an excellent 3D impression of anatomical structures and injuries.