Skip to main content

Forensic vehicle identification from paint samples


Forensic laboratories are frequently asked to verify vehicle types or to corroborate eye-witness testimonies. With a sample of the automobile paint and the MiniFlex benchtop X-ray diffractometer, this becomes an achievable assignment! Automobile manufacturer use slightly different paint components and pigments for every model of their vehicles. Every year, the paint formulas change. Using X-ray diffraction, the paint and pigment compositions can be to identified. The individual compounds can then be matched to a private manufacturer database and, the exact make, model and year of the vehicle can be verified.


Figure 1 is an automobile door panel. The entire panel section was inserted into the MiniFlex diffractometer and measured as is—no paint was removed! This type of nondestructive testing is critical for evidence preservation. Figure 2 displays the results from the individual pigment compounds. The phases are identified by color coordinated line markers. The next step in the verification would be to match the compounds to the manufacturers database.

paint xrd MiniFlex benchtop


Powder xrd on paint benchtop miniflex