Optical and scanning electron microscopes (SEM) are some of the instruments commonly used in general investigations and analyses for criminal, environmental and industrial forensics. These tools are used to characterize forensic evidence like fabrics, metals, particulates, textile or glass. Microscopic imaging can also aid in identifying scratches and indents from tool marks, hair classification, particle analysis, or scrutinizing residues such as sand, mud, and diatoms.

Microscopic analyses of devices and materials aid in finding the cause of product failure and structural damage. Understanding if a device failed due to excessive wear, extreme environmental conditions or defective manufacturing can be difficult. Often multiple techniques and processes are required to determine a root cause.

Gunshot residue (GSR) analysis is used to determine if a firearm has been used. Multiple samples are examined with an automated imaging and analysis routine using EDS with SEM is the standard method for GSR analysis.