Fingerprinting Tips: Selecting Live Scan or Ink Methods

Fingerprinting Tips: Selecting Live Scan or Ink Methods

Posted on April 22nd, 2024

In our increasingly security-conscious world, fingerprinting serves as a pivotal tool in personal identification and security verification.

This technology plays a crucial role across a variety of sectors, from criminal justice to employment screening, and understanding the different methods available is essential.

This blog post delves into the traditional ink fingerprinting technique and the advanced digital live scan method.

Each has distinct features, advantages, and ideal use cases.

By exploring how these methods differ and their respective pros and cons, we aim to equip you with the knowledge to choose the right fingerprinting solution for your specific needs.

Introduction to Fingerprinting Technologies

Fingerprinting technology has undergone significant evolution over the years, transitioning from rudimentary methods to advanced digital processes.

This section introduces the foundational technologies behind fingerprinting, providing a clear understanding of how they operate and their impact on various applications.

Historical Overview

Historically, fingerprinting involved using ink and paper to capture the unique patterns of an individual's fingers.

This method, while simple, laid the groundwork for identity verification processes that are still important today.

Modern Advances

The advent of digital technologies introduced live scan fingerprinting, a method that utilizes electronic scanners to directly capture digital images of fingerprints.

This innovation not only speeds up the process but also enhances accuracy, facilitating immediate data transfer and processing.

Understanding these technologies is crucial for anyone looking to implement effective and efficient identity verification systems.

What is Ink Fingerprinting?

Ink fingerprinting, also known as the traditional method of fingerprint collection, involves applying ink to each finger, which is then rolled onto a specially designed card to capture the unique ridge patterns.

This technique has been a staple in identity verification for decades.

Despite its age, it remains widely used due to its simplicity and the minimal equipment required.

The process can be performed almost anywhere, from police stations to remote field locations, making it accessible and versatile.

However, the technique demands a skilled operator to ensure that the prints are clear and usable, as poor-quality prints can lead to errors in identification or further verification steps.

What is Live Scan Fingerprinting?

Live scan fingerprinting is a modern digital method that uses electronic means to capture fingerprints and immediately transmit them to databases for background checks.

This method captures fingerprint images directly in a digitized format, which significantly enhances the speed and accuracy of the data collection and processing.

Comparing Ink and Live Scan Methods

Differences in Procedure and Technology

The primary difference between ink fingerprinting and live scan lies in their execution and technological advancement.

Ink fingerprinting is manual and more hands-on, while live scan is electronic and computerized, offering more direct and faster results.

Speed and Efficiency

Live scan fingerprinting is significantly faster than ink fingerprinting.

Live scan can transmit fingerprints instantly and receive results from background checks within hours, whereas ink fingerprinting requires physical mailing and may take days to process.

Accuracy and Error Rates

Live scan offers a higher degree of accuracy with a lower chance of errors.

Ink fingerprinting, while reliable, can suffer from smudging and over- or under-inking, which can lead to rejections or the need for multiple submissions.

Pros and Cons of Each Method

Each fingerprinting method has its advantages and disadvantages, making them suitable for different situations.

Ink Fingerprinting

  • Pros: Cost-effective; no need for electronic equipment; can be more portable.
  • Cons: Higher error rate due to smudging; slower processing times; physical storage requirements.

Live Scan Fingerprinting

  • Pros: Faster results; more accurate with fewer errors; digital storage and transmission.
  • Cons: More expensive initial setup; requires electronic connectivity and power.

Typical Uses

Both ink fingerprinting and live scan fingerprinting serve distinct functions and are chosen based on the specific needs of the setting in which they are used.

Ink Fingerprinting Applications

Ink fingerprinting is often preferred in environments where digital technology is not feasible or where a physical copy of fingerprints is required for archival purposes.

It is frequently used in legal documents, historical record-keeping, and by organizations in remote areas without access to modern infrastructure.

Live Scan Fingerprinting Applications

Live scan is typically used in fast-paced, technologically advanced settings such as law enforcement agencies, government buildings, and corporate environments where quick turnaround and digital integration are essential.

It is ideal for employment verification, criminal background checks, and security clearances, where efficiency and accuracy are paramount.

Making the Right Choice

Selecting the right fingerprinting method—ink or live scan—depends heavily on your specific needs, the urgency with which you require results, and the environment in which the fingerprinting is conducted.

It's crucial to evaluate the advantages each method offers and how they align with your objectives.

Factors to Consider

  • Urgency and Efficiency: Live scan might be your preferred choice if quick turnaround is crucial, as it offers faster processing times.
  • Quality and Reliability: If ensuring fewer errors in the prints is paramount, live scan typically offers higher accuracy.
  • Availability and Accessibility: Ink fingerprinting doesn't require electronic setup and can be done in remote or mobile settings, making it versatile for various situations.

At 2nd City Fingerprinting in Homewood, we are dedicated to helping you navigate these choices.

As a one-stop shop for all your fingerprinting and background check needs, we offer both ink and live scan services tailored to meet diverse requirements.

Our team of experts uses state-of-the-art equipment and advanced techniques to ensure precise and clear results.

Whether you need fingerprinting for employment, certification, or licensing, we make the process smooth and stress-free.


This blog post has explored the distinct features, benefits, and applications of both traditional ink fingerprinting and modern live scan methods.

Understanding the differences between these technologies allows you to choose the most suitable method for your needs, whether you prioritize speed, accuracy, or cost-effectiveness.

If you're looking for expert guidance and high-quality fingerprinting services, 2nd City Fingerprinting in Homewood is here to assist you.

We provide both ink and live scan options tailored to meet diverse requirements, using advanced equipment for precise results.

Contact us at (773) 913-0009 or via email at [email protected] to discuss your fingerprinting needs.

Let our skilled team make the process efficient and stress-free for you.

Get in Touch with 2nd City Fingerprinting Today

Contact us today to schedule an appointment and experience our top-notch services firsthand. Simply fill out the form below, and one of our friendly representatives will be in touch with you shortly to discuss your needs and answer any questions you may have.