(Topic ID: 150775)

Freeplay40 Ramps


By Freeplay40

4 years ago



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#2801 1 year ago
Quoted from MustangPaul:

Mark has been asked about how he makes them but he hasn't told anyone. Why would he tell potential competition?

Its gotta be lucrative, but also time consuming.

#2802 1 year ago
Quoted from lordloss:

Its gotta be lucrative, but also time consuming.

If you knew how much work he has to go through it comes out to about $2 per hour he makes. To make any kind of profet he would have to charge 2 to 3 times what he does. He does it for the love of the game.

17
#2803 1 year ago
Quoted from MustangPaul:

Mark has been asked about how he makes them but he hasn't told anyone. Why would he tell potential competition?

It's not so much that... Would be just something else I'd have to spend a lot of time on and maybe 1 in 10 would actually make something. I figured out how to make these from the internet and I think I have a pretty good mechanical aptitude. I'm retired and devote a lot of time towards making ramps and believe me it takes a lot of time....that's why no one else does it. If you can figure out how to repair pinballs you can figure out how to vacuum form. In Pinball's glory days, Williams/Bally was contracting out ramps by the many thousands. These days, the demand is much less so contracting any of it out really only works with high volume expectations...this is Starship's arena. I can do the smaller runs since I do everything from making the molds to finishing. I'd no doubt make more money doing the high volume expectation ramps, but we have Larry for those. Between him and me we just need to keep bringing more ramps. Since my health issues over the last couple years I will admit I've slowed down on the new ramps. I really enjoy making ramps....just don't want it to kill me.

I really only market or present my stuff here on Pinside...some think I may only be reaching 5%-10% of the whole community...but I'm comfortable here. I'd be nothing without the support I have gotten here on Pinside. It's what keeps me going...You guys sell more ramps than I do with your posts and photos and word of mouth... Greatly appreciated. Much of my business recently has been with people who just joined Pinside to find me...I've seen guys who joined as little as 15 minutes before messaging me.

I'm working on Black Belt and Transporter next...these are favors to the community, because if I don't do them no one else ever will...I'll be lucky to sell 10 of the Black Belt ramps and I don't expect to sell very many of the Transporter ramps.

I built my own vacuum forming machine and have modified it over time. Really need to get to the new one which will have zoned heating and pneumatic operation both from below and above. You can buy a machine for about $5k-$7k that will work, but not for everything as they are not set up to do plugging from above.... oh and BTW... the actual forming is the easiest part! Vacuum forming is not rocket science...however expect a great deal of trial and error. Early on I had one hell of a time figuring out how best to do the ramps for Genesis. I lost count of how many trials I threw away, but it was close to 100.

So here we are at 2019..My hopes for this year...accelerate new ramps and oh yeah, get the new heater done so I can make the Comet center ramp!

Happy New Year everybody and thanks for your support!

Mark

#2804 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

I really only market or present my stuff here on Pinside...some think I may only be reaching 5%-10% of the whole community...but I'm comfortable here. I'd be nothing without the support I have gotten here on Pinside. It's what keeps me going...You guys sell more ramps than I do with your posts and photos and word of mouth... Greatly appreciated. Much of my business recently has been with people who just joined Pinside to find me...I've seen guys who joined as little as 15 minutes before messaging me.

I hear ya there Mark same with my products.

#2805 1 year ago

Mark,
Thanks for all you do!
freddy

#2806 1 year ago

I'll share just a little history...I got into vacuum forming mostly for my son as he wanted to make a complete pinball machine. So we decided we would need to figure out how to do vacuum forming. He went in a different direction and here I sat with the machine I had built. So I decided I would do something for myself. I redesigned the High Speed ramp to eliminate the cover and of course make it in clear. About the time I got it working in my machine, I was here on Pinside and I saw a post from MustangPaul. He had just posted a photo of something he did to one of his machines that weekend and asked the community..."What did you make". So I posted a photo of my new clear ramp for High Speed. Within minutes I was getting messages, "Are you going to sell those?". Ummm, well I guess so. That's how I got started..... So it's all Paul's fault!

#2807 1 year ago

Keep me in mind for the blackbelt ramp! Appreciate you doing such a low run title!

#2808 1 year ago
Quoted from djsolzs:

Keep me in mind for the blackbelt ramp! Appreciate you doing such a low run title!

On my list.

#2809 1 year ago

Sign me up for a Space Shuttle in transparent blue - That will look sweet!

#2810 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

the actual forming is the easiest part! Vacuum forming is not rocket science...however expect a great deal of trial and error. Early on I had one hell of a time figuring out how best to do the ramps for Genesis. I lost count of how many trials I threw away, but it was close to 100.

/\THIS/\
I think a lot of people don't realize what goes into making a part, ESPECIALLY low volume parts. When I make a 3d printed mod, the customer has no idea how many hours went into modeling the part, having to tweak features because something doesn't print well, and even if the model is optimized there are still the typical 3d printing issues (nozzle gets clogged, bed isn't calibrated, prints won't stick), and you're tossing away partial or ruined finished prints (if you're printing overnight), and that doesn't cover all the other wear items on the printer (extruder teeth, worn belts, worn PEI sheet on the bed).

Even in manufacturing there is fallout (injection molding machines have bad fill, too much heat burns the plastic, bad ejections cause marks, tools wear out after so many cycles).

#2811 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

It's not so much that... Would be just something else I'd have to spend a lot of time on and maybe 1 in 10 would actually make something. I figured out how to make these from the internet and I think I have a pretty good mechanical aptitude. I'm retired and devote a lot of time towards making ramps and believe me it takes a lot of time....that's why no one else does it. If you can figure out how to repair pinballs you can figure out how to vacuum form. In Pinball's glory days, Williams/Bally was contracting out ramps by the many thousands. These days, the demand is much less so contracting any of it out really only works with high volume expectations...this is Starship's arena. I can do the smaller runs since I do everything from making the molds to finishing. I'd no doubt make more money doing the high volume expectation ramps, but we have Larry for those. Between him and me we just need to keep bringing more ramps. Since my health issues over the last couple years I will admit I've slowed down on the new ramps. I really enjoy making ramps....just don't want it to kill me.
I really only market or present my stuff here on Pinside...some think I may only be reaching 5%-10% of the whole community...but I'm comfortable here. I'd be nothing without the support I have gotten here on Pinside. It's what keeps me going...You guys sell more ramps than I do with your posts and photos and word of mouth... Greatly appreciated. Much of my business recently has been with people who just joined Pinside to find me...I've seen guys who joined as little as 15 minutes before messaging me.
I'm working on Black Belt and Transporter next...these are favors to the community, because if I don't do them no one else ever will...I'll be lucky to sell 10 of the Black Belt ramps and I don't expect to sell very many of the Transporter ramps.
I built my own vacuum forming machine and have modified it over time. Really need to get to the new one which will have zoned heating and pneumatic operation both from below and above. You can buy a machine for about $5k-$7k that will work, but not for everything as they are not set up to do plugging from above.... oh and BTW... the actual forming is the easiest part! Vacuum forming is not rocket science...however expect a great deal of trial and error. Early on I had one hell of a time figuring out how best to do the ramps for Genesis. I lost count of how many trials I threw away, but it was close to 100.
So here we are at 2019..My hopes for this year...accelerate new ramps and oh yeah, get the new heater done so I can make the Comet center ramp!
Happy New Year everybody and thanks for your support!
Mark

I'm sure I speak for most all of us who have your ramps in our games when I say Thank You Mark. It was truly great news when you announced the corkscrew and cycle jump ramps for comet. I felt like a little kid on Christmas when my box showed up with those 2 beautiful ramps in it. If someone such as yourself didn't take the initiative then so many of us would be shit out of luck on many of these old games. So again thank you so much for your dedication and hard work in keeping these old games alive.

#2812 1 year ago

I have seen several youtube videos on how to build a vacuum box to thermoform one ramp. It's not easy but it's doable. If you want to mass produce ramps you need access to about a million dollars in ovens and CNC machines.

#2813 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

..... So it's all Paul's fault!

Mustangs make people do the damnedest things!

#2814 1 year ago

Way to go Mark!

I’m moving as quick as I can to help those in need with Transporter plastics!

1BDF2BB0-46C1-4855-BD4C-1F10949682F4 (resized).jpeg
#2815 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

I'll share just a little history...I got into vacuum forming mostly for my son as he wanted to make a complete pinball machine. So we decided we would need to figure out how to do vacuum forming. He went in a different direction and here I sat with the machine I had built. So I decided I would do something for myself. I redesigned the High Speed ramp to eliminate the cover and of course make it in clear. About the time I got it working in my machine, I was here on Pinside and I saw a post from MustangPaul. He had just posted a photo of something he did to one of his machines that weekend and asked the community..."What did you make". So I posted a photo of my new clear ramp for High Speed. Within minutes I was getting messages, "Are you going to sell those?". Ummm, well I guess so. That's how I got started..... So it's all Paul's fault!

I remember that Mark, the HS is gone but I still have that blue blank that you signed for me.

#2816 1 year ago
Quoted from freddy:

Mustangs make people do the damnedest things!

Especially original owners.

#2817 1 year ago
Quoted from Chosen_S:

Way to go Mark!
I’m moving as quick as I can to help those in need with Transporter plastics![quoted image]

gonna be so awesome to be able to get all new ramps and plastics!

#2818 1 year ago
Quoted from lrosent345:

I have seen several youtube videos on how to build a vacuum box to thermoform one ramp. It's not easy but it's doable. If you want to mass produce ramps you need access to about a million dollars in ovens and CNC machines.

I found it a little funny that on the internet you either see homebrew, shop vac forming or industrial forming...very little in the middle...like me. I had to do a lot of fabrication and testing to get something that would work. You guys that have been following me since the beginning have seen photos of my first machine attempts.

The homebrew stuff can form the smaller ramps in thin material....not to make fun of, but there was a guy here on Pinside that was trying to make the Comet center ramp. His first attempt didn't look too good and the plastic he used was so thin that to finish the ramp, he was able to cut it out with scissors! I did try to help him, but he very quickly disappeared.

One very important component to this is the power of the vacuum. These homebrew guys use shop vacs for the vacuum. Vacuum power is measured by how far a vacuum machine will pull mercury up a tube. A typical shop vac will pull the mercury 6"-8" up the tube. My machine's vacuum power would pull the mercury 25" up the tube...I actually have a vacuum gauge on my machine. It's easy to vacuum form say a car body for a remote controlled vehicle out of 1/16" plastic with these home brew set ups...however the thicker plastic will need more "suck" to get the necessary detail.

Like I've said...not rocket science...but maybe more of an art and the actual forming is the easy part. Most of the work is in the making of the mold and the finishing. I don't do any CNC finishing. I use either "jigs" or simply finish them by hand. The finishing is where I lose the most pieces which is really frustrating sometimes since you have formed it, possibly dyed it and then you screw it up!

#2819 1 year ago

Put me down for a Comet center ramp.

#2820 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

I found it a little funny that on the internet you either see homebrew, shop vac forming or industrial forming...very little in the middle...like me. I had to do a lot of fabrication and testing to get something that would work. You guys that have been following me since the beginning have seen photos of my first machine attempts.
The homebrew stuff can form the smaller ramps in thin material....not to make fun of, but there was a guy here on Pinside that was trying to make the Comet center ramp. His first attempt didn't look too good and the plastic he used was so thin that to finish the ramp, he was able to cut it out with scissors! I did try to help him, but he very quickly disappeared.
One very important component to this is the power of the vacuum. These homebrew guys use shop vacs for the vacuum. Vacuum power is measured by how far a vacuum machine will pull mercury up a tube. A typical shop vac will pull the mercury 6"-8" up the tube. My machine's vacuum power would pull the mercury 25" up the tube...I actually have a vacuum gauge on my machine. It's easy to vacuum form say a car body for a remote controlled vehicle out of 1/16" plastic with these home brew set ups...however the thicker plastic will need more "suck" to get the necessary detail.
Like I've said...not rocket science...but maybe more of an art and the actual forming is the easy part. Most of the work is in the making of the mold and the finishing. I don't do any CNC finishing. I use either "jigs" or simply finish them by hand. The finishing is where I lose the most pieces which is really frustrating sometimes since you have formed it, possibly dyed it and then you screw it up!

Freeplay do these molds of your go bad after so many pulls?

#2821 1 year ago
Quoted from lordloss:

Freeplay do these molds of your go bad after so many pulls?

They do suffer from use over time. Sometimes repairable...sometimes easier to just cast a new one from a previously formed one.

#2822 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

It's not so much that... Would be just something else I'd have to spend a lot of time on and maybe 1 in 10 would actually make something. I figured out how to make these from the internet and I think I have a pretty good mechanical aptitude. I'm retired and devote a lot of time towards making ramps and believe me it takes a lot of time....that's why no one else does it. If you can figure out how to repair pinballs you can figure out how to vacuum form. In Pinball's glory days, Williams/Bally was contracting out ramps by the many thousands. These days, the demand is much less so contracting any of it out really only works with high volume expectations...this is Starship's arena. I can do the smaller runs since I do everything from making the molds to finishing. I'd no doubt make more money doing the high volume expectation ramps, but we have Larry for those. Between him and me we just need to keep bringing more ramps. Since my health issues over the last couple years I will admit I've slowed down on the new ramps. I really enjoy making ramps....just don't want it to kill me.
I really only market or present my stuff here on Pinside...some think I may only be reaching 5%-10% of the whole community...but I'm comfortable here. I'd be nothing without the support I have gotten here on Pinside. It's what keeps me going...You guys sell more ramps than I do with your posts and photos and word of mouth... Greatly appreciated. Much of my business recently has been with people who just joined Pinside to find me...I've seen guys who joined as little as 15 minutes before messaging me.
I'm working on Black Belt and Transporter next...these are favors to the community, because if I don't do them no one else ever will...I'll be lucky to sell 10 of the Black Belt ramps and I don't expect to sell very many of the Transporter ramps.
I built my own vacuum forming machine and have modified it over time. Really need to get to the new one which will have zoned heating and pneumatic operation both from below and above. You can buy a machine for about $5k-$7k that will work, but not for everything as they are not set up to do plugging from above.... oh and BTW... the actual forming is the easiest part! Vacuum forming is not rocket science...however expect a great deal of trial and error. Early on I had one hell of a time figuring out how best to do the ramps for Genesis. I lost count of how many trials I threw away, but it was close to 100.
So here we are at 2019..My hopes for this year...accelerate new ramps and oh yeah, get the new heater done so I can make the Comet center ramp!
Happy New Year everybody and thanks for your support!
Mark

I admire you, I never did buy from you but I admit I follow this thread as I'm truly admired by the passion and the effort you put in this. And this is not so common. Helping all the pinheads out there searching for ramps is really nice from you. Great attitude. You deserve lot of appreciation, my personal greetings and Happy New Year to you too and hope you enjoy life and also producing ramps. Cheers.

#2823 1 year ago

Three questions:

1.) Would it be feasable to do High Speed ramps in translucent blue?

2.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ramps (you could use mine for a model)?

3.) Where are your teaching videos? I think I'd like to know how to do this once it's time.

#2824 1 year ago
Quoted from pb456:

Three questions:
1.) Would it be feasable to do High Speed ramps in translucent blue?
2.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ramps (you could use mine for a model)?
3.) Where are your teaching videos? I think I'd like to know how to do this once it's time.

-1 has been done before and I'm sure he can make another for ya: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/freeplay40-ramps/page/36#post-4184857
-2 Will need new heater https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/freeplay40-ramps/page/52#post-4545320

#2825 1 year ago
Quoted from pb456:

Three questions:
1.) Would it be feasable to do High Speed ramps in translucent blue?
2.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ramps (you could use mine for a model)?
3.) Where are your teaching videos? I think I'd like to know how to do this once it's time.

1.)High Speed can be done in blue or red. Sold quite a few red ones and only 1 blue one.

2.)Been a lot of requests for TMNT. Will be considered when the new heater is done.

3.)I make ramps...nothing to be gained stopping to make movies.

#2827 1 year ago

I've done some research into this. The key problem is the amount of physical space you need to do this process.

For most of us that is a HUGE problem. I've played with some real small scale rigs at college decades ago.
Think that pretty much knocks most of us out of the game. If I could figure somewhere to store it I'd have
it set up. I guess underneath 6 games? That's where I'm at with storage now.

I've been trying to find a Makerspace in The Midwest that I could visit that would possibly have one of these.
- 3d printers ( no problem ) - CNC machines ( fairly common ) but you don't see to may of these Vacuum forming
machines around.

I wonder if there is another process in which to build ramps that are sturdy. I've been told 3d Printing is out.

#2828 1 year ago

Any one else need demolition man ramps?

Just wondering how big the need is?

I would be in for a full set

#2829 1 year ago

+1 on demolition man ramps

I’ll take Dirty Harry and BTTF as well

#2830 1 year ago

Dirty Harry would be awesome. I could also use the thin ramps on Party Zone.

#2831 1 year ago
Quoted from Madmax541:

Any one else need demolition man ramps?

Demolition man is in the cards. One of the ramps is too big for the current setup so will have to wait for the new heater. I could squeeze the two smaller ones in very soon if that would help. Regardless of when the new heater gets built, the two smaller ones will be done on the current machine.

#2832 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

Demolition man is in the cards. One of the ramps is too big for the current setup so will have to wait for the new heater. I could squeeze the two smaller ones in very soon if that would help. Regardless of when the new heater gets built, the two smaller ones will be done on the current machine.

Mark thanks for the update.

#2833 1 year ago
Quoted from boustrophedonic:

Dirty Harry would be awesome. I could also use the thin ramps on Party Zone.

Most likely not anytime soon by me...Sorry

#2834 1 year ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

gonna be so awesome to be able to get all new ramps and plastics!

I wonder if we can beg one of the two playfield companies to complete the package .

#2835 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

Demolition man is in the cards. One of the ramps is too big for the current setup so will have to wait for the new heater. I could squeeze the two smaller ones in very soon if that would help. Regardless of when the new heater gets built, the two smaller ones will be done on the current machine.

don't forget DR DUDE ramp! when you get your new heater!

#2836 1 year ago

You will get a lot of attention for Demolition Man Ramps, I know 7 people in my area that will purchase all 3. Love to hear you are going to make them. Hope your health is better, I understand as I have had issues also, since I retired. Keep up the much needed and appreciated work. Thank you

#2837 1 year ago

Definitely some interest in DemoMan ramps. Whatever you can produce now will sell that's for sure as these ramps have been NLA for a looong time. The larger ramp can come later when you have your new heater setup done.

#2838 1 year ago

Rollergames ? especially that unobtainable ball lock cover. Awesome work Mark !

#2839 1 year ago
Quoted from scotttye:

Rollergames ? especially that unobtainable ball lock cover.

Not anytime soon...sorry.

#2840 1 year ago

Below is most of a post I made in another thread here on Pinside....Thought I'd put it here as it pertains to the TMNT ramp

athenspin was kind enough to send me some really nice photos of the TMNT ramp...Thank you very much. I have been lobbied a lot to do the ramp for Time Machine. The reason I haven't even tried yet is due to some very thin walls between 2 lanes on that ramp... Although not quite as bad, they are very similar to the walls between the lanes on the TMNT ramp. Both the Time Machine ramp and TMNT ramp are what is referred to as a female form...In other words, the mold looks pretty much like the actual ramp and the plastic is pulled down into it as opposed to a male mold where the plastic is pulled down over an inverted form of the ramp. So imagine the mold with fairly thin walls separating the lanes. The material I currently use for my molds is a ceramic. It would be difficult to cast the mold with thin walls like that (Even thinner and more curve on Time Machine) and not have them break when I tried to remove the original from the cast ceramic. Let's say that I did get a good cast. While the forming process itself generally won't damage a mold, I suspect that those walls in the form would certainly bust when trying to remove the plastic from the mold after forming. The mold for Time Machine would not withstand one pull. TMNT is not quite as bad, but I do not think I would even attempt it with a ceramic.

This was not a problem with the original manufacturing of this ramp as the original mold was no doubt made of solid aluminum. Given the relatively low volume production runs these days, it simply makes no economic sense to spend several thousand $$$ to have a mold made out aluminum. Starship Fantasy still uses the original molds for most of his ramps.

So can it be done? I am looking at another medium to make molds with...actually an aluminum impregnated epoxy. This might be strong enough for molds like the TMNT and possibly for Time Machine, but will it be smooth enough and can it be machined after cast for corrections. It's quite expensive so errors can get costly quick, but certainly a whole lot cheaper than having a mold cut from an aluminum Block! As far as Time Machine is concerned, I would certainly be more inclined to test a new mold medium on TMNT first.

Oh yeah...and I need the bigger heater. Added a photo below so you can see what I'm talking about with respect to the thin walls.

TMNT2 (resized).jpg
#2841 1 year ago

how do you cut all the excess plastic off? the cuts are so straight. some sort of band saw by hand? how do you keep the cut so perfect? matching the shape/contour of the ramp etc... very impressed really look factory.

#2842 1 year ago

If you are referring to the TMNT ramp above, I did not make that one. Otherwise I used a variety of methods....Band saws, various routers, belt sanders, spindle sanders, Dremels…..

#2843 1 year ago

Just remember you don’t need a bigger heater or will have thin walls for the Black Rose whirlpool ramp.

#2844 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

If you are referring to the TMNT ramp above, I did not make that one. Otherwise I used a variety of methods....Band saws, various routers, belt sanders, spindle sanders, Dremels…..

All various ones you have made in this thread

#2845 1 year ago
Quoted from russdx:

All various ones you have made in this thread

In that case...Thanks!

#2846 1 year ago
Quoted from nitrojcrawf:

Just remember you don’t need a bigger heater or will have thin walls for the Black Rose whirlpool ramp.

After I finish the Black Belt and Transporter ramps I'm thinking two of the Demo man ramps and also we could squeeze Whirlpool ramp.

#2847 1 year ago

Will you be able to make Jurassic Park ramps when you get your new setup operational? I believe that a lot of owners would like to replace their cracked ramps. Apologies if this ahs already been addressed.

#2848 1 year ago
Quoted from BleacherBum:

Will you be able to make Jurassic Park ramps when you get your new setup operational? I believe that a lot of owners would like to replace their cracked ramps. Apologies if this ahs already been addressed.

Have been lobbied a lot for that one...including by Marco. Will have to see when I get the new setup done.

#2849 1 year ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

After I finish the Black Belt and Transporter ramps I'm thinking two of the Demo man ramps and also we could squeeze Whirlpool ramp.

Hot dog! Now I feel waiting for this ramp like i’m Waiting for Ghost Busters code. I mean this in a good way.

#2850 1 year ago

I'm so down for demoman ramps.

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