Regardless of industry, there are lots of factors that go into releasing a new product—cost-effectiveness, quality material sourcing and reliable manufacturing capabilities, for example.
At the heart of delivering quality equipment, though, is considering the needs of the end user.
If a piece of equipment checks all the other boxes, yet is not convenient and effective for practical use, it is unlikely to succeed.
End user focus is one area where Labconco excels, often bringing in outside experts and talking to scientists in the field when it comes to conceptualizing and ultimately designing laboratory equipment.
That was their formula for designing the latest in the forensic lineup—the CApture™ BT Fuming Chamber—and the addition brought versatility to the forensic line (which also includes powder stations and a variety of evidence drying cabinets).
As Product Manager Kelly Williams explained in her press release, the primary goal for the development of the CApture BT was to solve common fuming problems and frustrations expressed by actual industry professionals.
Matthew Schwarz, CLPE, CPES and President and CEO of Schwarz Forensic Enterprises, consulted Labconco on the CApture BT. Having provided training and forensic services to both private companies and government agencies in addition to serving in the field of law enforcement for 16 years, Schwarz said he was eager to help design a high performing product for an industry in which he had invested so much.
"The biggest thing about the CApture BT is that it is designed in a way that gives any end user—whether they're a technician, latent print examiner or a research scientist, a range of control and operation from one button operation to full specific control over each of the parameters.
This unit will provide the highest level of repeatable performance and end results out there," Schwarz said. "We wanted something with consistent, verifiable, accurate and repeatable results every time."
The superglue fuming process is fairly easy to conceptualize, as it requires few components and can be done rather swiftly. A key problem with DIY field methods, however, is a lack of repeatability and an inconsistency in results. There are a number of factors that can contribute, including different ambient temperatures or any slight changes in processing. Those concerns were a big driver for the CApture BT design.
"I have done thousands of cycles of superglue processing have found issues with different points of the process that didn't allow consistent results or repeatability. With that information, we combined all the findings into the development of this product," Schwarz said.
That design includes a programmable operating system that allows users to store and repeat up to 20 specified programs, controlling chamber humidity, fuming temperature and fuming time. Three factory set programs are also available.
Another process important to control is the amount of superglue used and the size of the dish that holds it and the size of heat plate that it sits on. More superglue, for instance, does not always result in more fingerprints being developed—actually, it can have the opposite effect.
"Superglue goes from a liquid to a gas. And, just like with water, it will evaporate the faster you add heat and surface area. If you put superglue in smaller tins that are deeper, you're going to slow the volatilization process because the surface area is decreased and it takes longer for the heat to react with the thicker amount of superglue, thus slowing the volatilization process.
If you constantly use a different brand or sized tin, Cyanoacrylate, or have a hot plate that is inconsistent in producing the same even amount of heat, you'll never really know how long it will take for an optimum fuming cycle or be able to consistently repeat prior results," Schwarz said. "With the CApture BT, we designed the heat plate and the tin to all be the same size so there is even, consistent heat throughout the whole 2.5-3 grams that will spread out and fill the tin."
The CApture BT features an eye-level LCD control screen that allows users to monitor cabinet operations in full color. It showcases how much filter life remains and provides other alerts, such as those for low water levels and open doors. The operating system has a diagnostic feature that allows the user to troubleshoot quickly and easily, making a checklist of mechanical functions readily available.
"The unit allows the end user adjustment of all the different variables with specificity to obtain desired results, and once established, maintain accurate results from test to test," Schwarz said. "There's really nothing else on the market with that level of control with ability to be calibrated and have verifiable information of the output performance."
The CApture BT boasts the largest interior of any benchtop chamber (19 cubic feet) and has the ability to hold up to 15 long guns. There are several configurations for shelving.
"We took great efforts to make sure we got the maximum amount of usable fuming area for the end users," Schwarz said. "The cubic square foot measurement of the fuming area is a standard way you can use to compare different brands and models, what you're really looking at when purchasing a CA fuming unit like this is price per cubic foot for this fuming area you are getting with your purchase.
The team positioned the CApture BT as a standout item in the forensics market. After all, there is no chamber like it with the specificity of control over all of the different aspects that affect the superglue processing time—temperature, humidity and volume.
"This product is really a paradigm shift for evidence processing and research going forward and for how people will approach the cyanoacrylate (superglue) fuming of evidence in the future" Schwarz says.
Learn more about the CApture BT Fuming Chamber or the use of cyanoacrylate (superglue) fuming in forensics. Note that multiple CApture BT Fuming Chamber accessories are available to meet specific fuming needs, including specialized kits to hold shell casings or long guns.