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The Characterization of Automobile Body Fillers

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Body fillers are sometimes encountered with paint evidence from hit-and-run accidents. Little forensic research has been conducted and published on the subject since 1986. The objective of this study was to determine if chemical and physical differences in body fillers from various manufacturers existed and could be identified. Thirty-three samples of light-weight automobile body fillers and spot putties were obtained. The fillers and putties were compared using light microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDX), and pyrolysis gas chromatography (pyGC). Results from fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analysis placed the samples into five groups and differentiated six samples. Light microscopy placed the samples into one of five color groups. PyGC placed the samples into three groups and differentiated one sample. SEM-EDX placed the samples into four groups and differentiated 13 samples. Using these analysis methods, 19 of the 33 samples could be discriminated. The best discriminatory tool was found to be SEM-EDX.
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Keywords: automobile body filler; body filler analysis; criminalistics; forensic science; gas chromatography; infrared spectroscopy; scanning electron microscopy; spot putty analysis; trace evidence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Trace Evidence Unit, Michigan State Police Crime Laboratory, Northville, MI 48167 2: Forensic & Investigative Sciences Program, IUPUI, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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