Forensic science has spent a good deal of time studying wound-channels from stabbings. What they haven’t focused on as much is the effect that different blades have on the clothing they pass through on the way into the victim. That might be about to change thanks to a new machine that is capable of conducting controlled, standardized thrusts in hopes of studying the effects of different knives on fabric.
From Popular Science:
Forensic scientists are trying to understand what tears and distortions in the fabric around a stab wound can say about the knife type, angle of attack, and stabbing technique that caused the wound. But the patterns have been difficult to work out, partly because researchers have had to do most of their laboratory experiments by hand, manually stabbing different fabric swatches. But inconsistencies and human error are unavoidable. So a team of forensic scientists and engineers invented a stabbing machine to help standardize this type of research.
While there have been a few other stabbing machines made for science, this new one—built by researchers at the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Santa Cruz do Sul in Brazil—takes the cake. Its pneumatic arm can grip just about any kind of knife, and stab at fabric samples from a variety of angles and forces.
“The machine offers at least 60 possible stabbing positions and the knife holder allows for a range of stabbing implements to be analysed,” the authors write.
In the stabbing machine, different knives generated different patterns in the fabric. Eventually, information like this could make it easier to identify the weapons used in assault and murder cases, which could in turn lead to finding the attacker.