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How to Use 3D Printing to Create Visual Evidence for Court Trials

By October 20, 2017 No Comments

When research chemist Vin Smentkowski slipped on some ice and fell while walking his family dog, X-rays showed he had a fracture in his ankle.

But after weeks, the fracture wasn’t healing properly. Further X-rays couldn’t reveal why. So his doctor sent him to have 3D computer tomography imaging done on his ankle. The 3D image revealed that he didn’t have a simple fracture – he was missing a small piece of bone. The two-dimensional images of the X-ray were not enough to diagnose the extent of Vin’s injury.

It took 3D imaging to get enough detail to see the extent of his injury.

Make Your Visual Evidence 3D

Photographs, videos, PowerPoint presentations, computer animations – these forms of visual evidence have become commonplace in courtrooms over the past few decades. And for good reason: it’s been found that “photos and images can facilitate comprehension and memory, especially when an idea is difficult to understand.”

Visual evidence assists jurors with understanding difficult concepts. It helps them imagine what happened in the events of a case. It enables them to remember details they might otherwise dismiss during deliberation.

But like with Vin’s broken ankle, these 2D images may not be enough to show the whole story.

Unlike with photographs and videos, jurors can hold and physically manipulate a 3D model. While it’s possible to turn a presentation or computer animation 3D, the recreations are still limited by the screen.

Let’s Look at an Example

During a personal injury case, you discover that the railings on a walkway weren’t high enough.

Your client easily fell over them.

With a 3D model, you can recreate the accident scene and your client to scale to show how low the top rail is in comparison to the average person. Your model can also show other features that contributed to the fall, such as a slick floor or overcrowded passageway.

You could use 2D imagery. That is, after all, what you’ve been using. But 3D models allow jurors to experience the exact measurements and other details in a way that is more visceral than photographs.

The jurors get to see exactly how close together the people on the walkway are. The likelihood of getting jostled into the railing. And then how easy it was to trip and go over since the railing was built too low.

The American Bar Association says about visual evidence, “the more vivid the information, the more likely it will be remembered, and the more likely it will affect later judgments.” There isn’t much more vivid than a full-color 3D model.

How to Use 3D Models in Your Court Case

3D models have a place in many types of court cases, including as a way to:

  • Illustrate eyewitness and expert testimonies, especially if the testimonies might be difficult to follow or grasp
  • Recreate accidents or crime scenes so jurors can see the events from multiple angles
  • Demonstrate the severity of medical injuries based on x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans – andmultiple models to mark the rate of recovery over time
  • Show the extent of vehicle and other property damages, as well as how the damageoccurred

Why You Should Choose 3D Printed Models Over Handmade Ones

3D models aren’t unheard of in courtrooms. However, most of the models used now are handmade, which takes weeks to do and can be very expensive.

3D printed models can be delivered to you in a matter of days, not weeks, usually at a price point lower than that of handmade models. At ZVerse, we’ve delivered designs like this architectural model in less than a week, even for new customers.

3D Makes Visual Evidence More Compelling

You’ve already made visual evidence an integral part of your court trials. 3D models take that visual evidence and make it even more explicit in detailing events and their ramifications to the jurors you need to convince.