Powders develop fingerprints by preferential adhesion of fine particles to the deposited ridge details. The adhesion of the particles is influenced by the presence of aqueous and/or fatty componets in sweat, or by sticky contaminants in the print.
There are many types of powder and several methods of application. The effectiveness of the various combinations differs considerably and is dependent upon the chemical and physical properties of the powder, the type of applicator and the competence of the operator (including the use of suitable illumination). If used optimally, it is still one of the most productive fingermark visualisation processes.