Quoted from luckymoey:
Pulling the art back from the posts is a step in the right direction but seriously doubt it will fully solve the problem. The clear is obviously not sufficiently cured / hardened and is easily damaged when the posts are tightened down or move laterally due to ball strikes or pressure from the rubbers. The art may be adhering more to the clear than the wood but the soft clear is the underlying issue. I haven't seen any examples of art lifting where the clear wasn't pooled. I worked for a company that made high end adhesives for bonding metal to metal. Believe it or not the metal would rip apart before the adhesive joint failed, but that didn't mean the metal was defective. I'd be very surprised if Stern doesn't also change the clear formulation and/or application process.
My personal opinion...
I have many games with this issue on route so I have seen multiple examples over the past few years ranging from minimal to VERY bad.
This issue is on Beatles, Maiden, JP2 most predominantly, but I have seen it on all title from Stern fro the past 4 years; just seemingly worse for the last 1.5 years.
I think it is important to note that "pooling" (e.g. clear still in liquid form resting into a puddle) is not really what is going on. Bunching may be a better term for this. The appearance looks like pooled areas but is is actually hollow but thick raised bunching where art and clear layer have lifted off the playfield while still in non-cured state.
I think the underlying issue is adhesion to the wood. This appears to be a chemical AND physical lack of adhesion.
This could be due to:
-the wood being used
-how the wood has been treated or prepped (or lack of prep)
-the ink being used or the timing between layers (no longer silk screened which means all one layer with reduced work time but also less total dry time?)
-the clear being used or the timing between layers
-the posts are differnet than they used to be and pressure is being displaced differently/ not spread as evenly as old posts do
I personally think it is a COMBINATION of root causes.
We know the wood is softer and different now than even a few years ago.
We have seen examples of poor wood prep and more dust which indicates technique and concern for wood prep before ink has decreased
We know ink is different chemically and now being layed down in one go (or one session of mutliple passes) compared to previous silkscreen process
We know time is being cut in every way possible so less cure time
We know clear coat chemicals continue to change and we can assume that they are given less time to cure off between coats
We know the whole process seems rushed and the game has changed to more titles and more often which means you have to assemble without cure off or as long.
I think the symptom is seen at posts and most quickly at sling posts because of the impact and abuse they take.
I think the clear is bonding pretty well to the ink layer (hence why ink and clear are lifting together). This tells me that clear is not given enough time to cure between layers so it is still pliable at assembly time. This tells me that ink is bonded more to clear than to wood.
The initial "solution" of adding washers under posts (e.g. JP2) was just attempting to displace pressure over a bigger area and hid the issue. This is the first visible acknowledgement that Stern knows they have an issue.
The new "solution" of moving art off of posts appears to only be a bandaid to hide the lack of finding a root cause. They have removed the ink adhesion issue from under posts and now we will get a chance to see if this helps remove the symptom (but still not the cause). I view this as a way for them to buy time or they are opting to just remove the visible symptom and moving on with life?? (I hope not but maybe the case). I will note that there are already examples on previous games where posts without art under them still have bunching, but the clear seems to be holding better than over art.
This is a multifacted issue and likely no one silver bullet to fix this.
I sure hope they can get it under control.
It is a very tough problem with likely MANY subcontractors, many moving parts in the manufacturing process, and also a very tough chemical and physical engineering problem to really get to the root cause and then solve (plus put in verification steps to make sure it does not go back to bad once fixed).
I think communication is always key in these matters and the company that comes out to more openly talk about it and the solutions being put in place will likely win the longer term loyalty of the customer base.