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Author Topic: pinball and acrylics  (Read 1133 times)

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SavannahLion

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pinball and acrylics
« on: September 11, 2015, 12:24:24 am »
Was acrylic ever used on the playfield as a functional, rather than decorative, component in any commercial pinball game?

For example, using acrylic as a light pipe to create more intricate designs? Or perhaps as a transparent floor?

The examples I can think of off the top of my head don't seem to use much acrylic. Pinball isn't one of my strong suits.

Xiaou2

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Re: pinball and acrylics
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2015, 06:53:27 am »
Besides the light up plastic inserts...   large clear acrylic sections are often used for things like "Basements".

 Example: 

 Haunted House.   (3 playfields:  1 Main level playfield.  1 mini upper level playfield.  1 mini under-playfield (basement)

 HH Has a center mounted acrylic window that is transparent.   Its dark, until the ball drops down into the basement level playfield... and then lights down turn on, allowing you to see everything.

 On many playfields,  they have Mylar glued onto the surface.  Mylar is basically very thin plexi.   It dramatically reduces ball wear.  Without it... many machines have been worn right down to the bare wood... leaving actual pits.  Also, heated lamps and aging materials often cause the wood to expand and contract.. and thus the paint and clearcoat (used to be some light shellac I think) ... would start to show tons of hairline cracks.   Mylar seemed to help stop that from happening... due to the extra surface support it provided.

 I believe I know of one or two machines that used plexi as an actual playfield topper.   These were older machines... I think one was by Stern, called Orbiter.   There might be many more.  I think cutting costs nullified this idea... and they later decided to use mylar instead.  In Orbiter is was a little different... in that theres a 3d molded plastic mountain range of sorts... thats under the plexi field.

 Id thought about using a full 3/4 thick plexi or cutting board material, for certain similar projects.
Cost really jumps however, when you go to the thicker plexi.    Also, not sure about how well things would work in pure plexi.  If a post was hit hard.. it might crack.  Glue doesnt always hold well either... though,  you might not really need it, since the light can shine through your screen-printed artwork top from the underside.

 As a surface for a ball,  mylar is very tough.. and can last ages without wear.   It can also be removed, and a new sheet re-applied if it ever does start to wear.   Mild scraping can be buffed out quite easily, to a mirror shine.   Its also very slippery when polished, which keeps wear even further reduced.

 Do remember that Pinball playfields have a Lot  of parts and thus a lot of weight on them.   And pinball needs very accurate leveling... so the PF must be thick, dense, smooth as glass,  and very rigid.

 As for the ball..   many times it hits metal ramps & things, at great speeds.. and gets scratches on it.   This ball then becomes a bit like a sanding machine... tearing up the playfield as it rolls and spins with fury.     Its advisable to replace the balls every so often to help prevent quicker damages.   Many use wax as well, to help reduce wear... by creating another layer of protection.  I find that doesnt really work for very long.. and turns the PF into a real mess over time.  I prefer to use F21 (Formula 21, from Turtle Wax)  instead.   Its tough urethane formula, provides a super slick surface... far slicker than wax..  and unlike wax... it cant be lifted off the field, nor store any particles of dust inside of it.   Unlike wax... which is notorious for capturing carbon dust, metal flakes, and more.. into it..  and having the ball pickup, spread,  and  bash that dirty grime... all over the place.

SavannahLion

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Re: pinball and acrylics
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2015, 11:37:50 am »
I've heard people describe HH, or something like it, but I've never seen it in the wild nor knew of the name. Based on the description, I always assumed it was tempered glass with a mylar coating.

The ball never really impacts the acrylic "floor" in HH does it? So cracking is never an issue on this machine? Scratching... yeah.... smashing into it.... not so much....

I recall an article somewhere where a person molded a new ramp using acrylic, can't find it now though. Did any pinballs use acrylic ramps?

I agree I can't see acrylic being used as a post. But elsewhere on the field.... :dunno

Xiaou2

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Re: pinball and acrylics
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2015, 07:39:11 pm »
I've heard people describe HH, or something like it, but I've never seen it in the wild nor knew of the name. Based on the description, I always assumed it was tempered glass with a mylar coating.

The ball never really impacts the acrylic "floor" in HH does it? So cracking is never an issue on this machine? Scratching... yeah.... smashing into it.... not so much....

I recall an article somewhere where a person molded a new ramp using acrylic, can't find it now though. Did any pinballs use acrylic ramps?

I agree I can't see acrylic being used as a post. But elsewhere on the field.... :dunno

 Cracking isnt really an issue, because all plastics are glued into place.    Even with an airball.. direct impacts really do not effect plexi.   The thinner slingshot plastics have been broken however... mostly because they are mounted higher up, and get hit on the corners / edges.

 I can assure you, its not tempered glass as well.  Just fairly thick plexi.  Im guessing 1/2 a cm.    Tempered glass is only used on the pinball glass itself.   Its edges are very well protected, to keep it from shattering.   Plexi is quite strong, and can really take a good beating without any issues.   I believe mylar was also layered over the top of the window plastic as well.   Not that it needed it... but merely because mylar tends to be a single large piece, and covers most all of the playfield.

 And yes, ramps are often made out of plastic.  Pretty sure its also acrylic.    I believe they use a vaccuform like machine to do it.   But it might be a little different for the professionals.   Maybe a heated press.

 They often put translucent stickers under the ramps... and then place lights and flashers under them..  so that the decals light up.

SavannahLion

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Re: pinball and acrylics
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2015, 11:55:57 pm »
Ok.. I think I have what I need now... thanks.

  
 

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