Manufacturers and Distributors
of Crime Scene Investigation Equipment
  Go To Forensics

"What do I need for fingerprinting?"

Low Volume Users (Individual use, thumbprints only, etc.)
i.e. Pawn shops, banks, gun dealers, grocery stores, child identification kits, etc.

Low volume users have several options depending on their exact needs. Thumbprint pads are available in several different styles and sizes, depending on the number of prints you expect to roll. Inking Foils are an excellent option for disposable fingerprinting. Our Inkless Tab Kit is excellent for notary public, rental agencies and to deter writers of bad checks.

Medium Volume Users (multiple use, complete fingerprint cards, less than 20 individuals/day)
i.e. Small- or medium-sized businesses, small government agencies, non-profit organizations, etc.

Medium volume users generally use a fingerprint pad. Fingerprint pads come in two styles: Fingerprint pads using Porelon® fingerprinting ink (requires hand cleaners to remove the ink from the fingers) and Semi-Inkless fingerprint pads (which simply wipes off of the fingers with a cloth or towel). Both styles of fingerprint pad provide equally dark prints, sufficient for all State and Federal agencies. Each of these pads can be mounted on a permanent unit such as our table-top or mounted units. These units provide a secure station from which to roll fingerprints, and include a cardholder to hold the fingerprint cards in place. The table-top unit also provides the correct height for rolling fingerprints if the counter or desktop you are working from is too low for comfortable fingerprint rolling.

High Volume Users (20 or more individuals per day, complete fingerprint cards)
i.e. Jails, medium and large government agencies, immigration services, etc.

High volume users should select one of our Printmaster® inkers. Printmaster® inkers are an extremely quick and efficient way to fingerprint a large number of individuals. Rolling ink on a slab is also a very cost-effective method of rolling a large number of fingerprints.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I roll fingerprints? [back to top]

Rolling fingerprints is not a difficult skill to obtain, however, there is some technique to it that should be learned. Often your local police department can give you some quick pointers on how to roll fingerprints. There is also an instructional video on fingerprinting available, to assist you in rolling fingerprints in an acceptable and efficient manner.

Do I need a license/special training to roll fingerprints? [back to top]

Anybody can roll fingerprints. No license or special certificate is required to fingerprint somebody. You simply have to have the material and roll the fingerprints in an acceptable fashion.

What card do I use for fingerprinting? [back to top]

Before fingerprinting, check with the agency you are submitting your fingerprint cards to. They should be able to tell you what type of card to submit the fingerprints on. Some states require a special card for their agencies. Lightning Powder Co., Inc. currently only carries the FBI and Immigration Card (FD-258).

What do I do if I make a mistake on a fingerprint card? [back to top]

If you happen to smudge a print during fingerprinting, Retabs are available. Retabs are small adhesive covers used to correct a smudged or incorrectly rolled fingerprint. Simply tear a Retabs from the roll with the backing intact, roll the fingerprint on the Retabs sticker until you receive an acceptable print, remove the Retabs from it's protective backing and place the Retabs sticker on the fingerprint card. The FBI requires that no more than two Retabs labels be on a single card. More than two labels and the card may be rejected. Check with the agency you are submitting your cards to before fingerprinting to see if they will accept cards with Retabs stickers attached to them or not, and if so, if they have a maximum number of stickers per card.

How do I fingerprint someone with crippled hands or who have a difficult time bending their fingers? [back to top]

Fingerprinting the elderly or those with crippled hands can be a difficult process. To assist you in fingerprinting these individuals, a fingerprinting "spoon" is available. Place a cardstrip or a Retabs sticker (with protective backing in place) in the cardholder (spoon). Roll the cardholder against the individuals fingers. Once a cardstrip or Retabs is completed, place it on the appropriate blocks on the fingerprint card. Currently the FBI will only accept cards with a maximum of two Retabs stickers on it, so only roll the most difficult fingers in this manner.

Is fingerprint ink toxic? [back to top]

Fingerprint ink in tube or pad form is non-toxic. However, care should be taken that individuals (especially children) do not put their fingers in their eyes or mouth after being fingerprinted, because it is messy and in a few cases, may cause irritation.

Can I use a regular stamp pad to fingerprint someone? [back to top]

The ink found in fingerprint tubes and pads is a specially formulated ink, designed to ink the small ridges of the fingers. Other types of ink will not provide this level of detail. This usually results in the fingerprint card being rejected by the agency you are submitting your cards to. Always use an ink that is designed specifically for fingerprinting purposes to avoid this. Stamp pads from stationary stores are not appropriate for rolling fingerprints.

How many fingerprints will a fingerprint pad make? [back to top]

The number of fingerprints produced from a fingerprint pad depends on the size and style of the ink. Use the table below to determine roughly how many fingerprints each size and style of pad will produce:

Semi-Inkless Fingerprint Pads
Catalog No. Size # of Prints
PI 5 1 ½" × 2" 500
PI 10 1 ½" round 1200
PI 20 2 ½" round 4800
PI 30 3" × 4.5" 16000
Porelon® Fingerprint Pads
Catalog No. Size # of Prints
2-1000 2" round 5000
2-1100 2 ½" × 5" 15000
2-1110 2 ½" × 5" 15000
2-1115 2 ½" × 5" (refill) 15000

Why were my fingerprint cards rejected? [back to top]

Fingerprint cards are rejected for a number of reasons. The most common reason is fingerprints that were rolled in an unsatisfactory way. Fingerprints which are smudged, incomplete or too dark or light will most definitely result in your cards being rejected. Other reasons for rejected cards may be caused by the use of an ink not designed for fingerprinting, fingerprinting on a card that the agency being submitted to does not accept and not filling all the blocks on a fingerprint card.

What do I use to hold a fingerprint card in place while I'm fingerprinting? [back to top]

A fingerprint cardholder is most commonly used to hold a fingerprint card in place while fingerprinting. Using a cardholder to keep the card in place helps to prevent smudging and rolling incomplete fingerprints. Fingerprint cardholders come in two models: permanent and pocket. The permanent model has mounting holes on the bottom, as well as two screws to mount the cardholder onto a table or desktop. The pocket model has rubber feet on the bottom, to prevent the cardholder from slipping when in place, and is not meant to be mounted permanently in place.

Are there any completely inkless fingerprinting solutions? [back to top]

Truly inkless fingerprinting solutions are available, but are generally not suitable for filling out fingerprint cards, and may result in your fingerprint cards being rejected by the agency you are submitting your cards to. True inkless fingerprinting solutions come in three distinct forms: livescan, chemically treated paper, and chemically treated inking solutions.

Livescan is a method used to roll and record fingerprints electronically, with the use of a computer. Livescan systems are becoming more prevalent, but the cost still ranges in the tens of thousands of dollars, and thus livescan is generally not a suitable solution for individual use.

Inkless fingerprinting with the use of chemically treated paper is useful when obtaining thumbprints or individual fingerprints. A specially treated paper, in conjunction with a special inkless fingerprint solution creates a rich, dark print. However, the fingerprinting solution will ONLY develop fingerprints on the chemically treated paper. An example of this method is our Inkless Tab Kit. Small thumbprint tabs of chemically treated paper are included with this kit, for use by notary publics, rental agencies, and to deter writers of bad checks.

Inkless fingerprinting using chemically treated ink, as opposed to the method listed above, employs standard fingerprinting cards and the use of a special fingerprinting solution. The cards are then "baked" in a special fingerprint card developer, to produce rich black fingerprints, acceptable by most government agencies. Examples of this method would be the LE-10 Digit 10® and LE-15 IdentaPrint® inkless fingerprinting systems available through Identicator®.

  Go To Forensics

Lightning Powder Company, Inc.
13386 International Parkway, Jacksonville, FL 32218
Tel: (800) 852-0300 or (904) 485-1836
Fax: (800) 588-0399 or (904) 741-5407
Send us an e-mail

© 2011 BAE Systems All rights reserved.