When the FBI wanted Apple's help unlocking a cell phone connected to the tragedy in San Bernandino a few months back, the computer company declined, forcing the FBI to go around the company to get it done.
They didn't turn to 3d printing to recreate the finger of the phone's owner, but if they had gone to Michigan State University they might have been able to.
A computer scientist at the university is currently leading a project to help law enforcement officials 3d print a set of fingers that are replicates of a murder victim's in order to unlock the victim's phone and possibly solve the case. The technology will be put to the test in a few weeks when the 3d prints are handed over to law enforcement, according to a report on Fusion.net.
“We don’t know which finger the suspect used,” said PhD student Sunpreet Arorahe, who is assisting on the project. “We think it’s going to be the thumb or index finger—that’s what most people use—but we have all ten.”
The project is made possible in part because 3d scanning data of the victim's fingers were accessible due to previous incidents with police. That data was turned into files which Michigan State's 3d printers can use to create replicas and if successful, this would be the first known example of a phone utilizing fingerprint security to be accessed in this manner.