(Topic ID: 67163)

*FINISHED* The Acrylic Pinball Project - I am "clearly" insane

By Mk1Mod0

6 years ago

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  • Latest reply 2 years ago by Mk1Mod0
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#48 6 years ago

If you have trouble with the areas around the glue joint turning white, or "clouding", use Weld-on 4 instead of 3. It's made to avoid that.

Quoted from loppydog:

I remember the first time I worked with acrylic. With my CO2 laser I cut out a nice full sized template with long skinny vertical cut-outs. The thing looked great when I was finished. Came back the next day and it looked like someone smashed it with a hammer. It was shattered into a million pieces. This stuff cracks REALLY easy.
I seem to have much better luck cutting Lexan, but I am sure that is way more money though.

Same thing happens if you flame polish edges with a torch. The heat creates stresses in the acrylic which can be released by the solvent cement, or even changes in ambient temperature. The only way around this is to anneal the parts, which is a long process of heating the whole part to an even temperature, and gradually cooling. See here:


Neat project. Best of luck.

#63 6 years ago

The paper on the sheet says "polycarbonate". That is Lexan.

1 week later
#78 6 years ago

Standard twist drills have a tendency to grab upon breaking through and crack/shatter the material. It might not be as much of a problem on thicker material. But there is a trick to grinding the drills so they don't grab. I bought a $4 set of Horrible Freight drills and ground them all just for use on acrylic. If you've found this to be a problem let me know and I'll get you a picture of the modified drill.

#87 6 years ago
Quoted from Mk1Mod0:

I purchased these in several sizes and so far I am reasonably impressed with their performance. Designed "for acrylic and polycarbonate materials." So far I have found that duller is better. The more I use the jigsaw blade the better and cleaner it cuts.

See how the cutting edge has been ground flat? Makes the drill act more like a paddle bit than a twist drill. Keeps it from grabbing. If you're in a bind for a particular size, you can grind the same flats on a standard twist drill. Same trick works on other materials when you are enlarging a hole.

Edit- Piece looks great, btw. Nice work.

#93 6 years ago

If you want to save some time in the polishing department, try this on a piece of scrap: 240 grit wet/dry paper and water enough to remove any saw/cut marks, then Novus 3 heavy scratch remover applied by hand, then Novus 2 light scratch remover applied by hand. Let me know if this meets your standards.

1 week later
#113 6 years ago

Be careful with the play sand. Silicosis is nasty stuff.

#129 6 years ago

It adds to the effect if you hide the light source.

Should be a helluva show stopper when done.

eandc1000.jpg etw1.jpg
#135 6 years ago

BTW, if you haven't tried already, I did a little experiment last week and found that Forestner bits work well on acrylic too. I had to let everything cool a couple of times during the cut, as I could smell the acrylic getting hot. Might have helped if I applied more pressure to shorten the drill time and/or backed off the drill speed.

4 weeks later
#175 6 years ago

As I said before, if you're using Weld on 3, try 4. It was made specifically not to do that:


It has nothing to do with humidity.

3 weeks later
#238 6 years ago

I can't really tell from the pics, sorry if I missed something, but are you tapping threads into the acrylic? Or just running a wood screw into a big enough hole to get grip but not blow out the acrylic? Have you tried self-tappers?

#241 6 years ago

When I said 'self tappers', I wasn't thinking of the drill tip kind, more like this:


You still have to drill a hole for them, but they cut their own threads. Might hold better than wood screws.

3 weeks later
#369 6 years ago
Quoted from Mk1Mod0:

Guess who's gonna be the first person to walk into a sharp acrylic corner and cut themselves? That's right, me!

First rule of my shop: The project has not officially begun until you've bled all over it.

3 weeks later
#419 6 years ago

What did you end up using for the play field? Acrylic or polycarbonate? From what I've read, poly is tougher, but scratches easier than acrylic. Go figure.

1 month later
#508 5 years ago

If there is any chance machine buffing will induce any heat into the material, I suggest hand polish only.

#519 5 years ago
Quoted from Gerry:

That stuff is actually tougher than paint, unless you lay on it hard with the buffer in one spot there should be no chance of damage...

Was more concerned with heat stress than damage. I tried to use a piece of cloth and Novus 2 on the end of a oscillating tool. It cracked before my eyes.

1 month later
#732 5 years ago
Quoted from Mk1Mod0:

4 down, 2 to go. Did I mention a HATE polishing? AAaaaarrrrrrgggggg!!!!!

And you took on this project? You do hate yourself, don't you.

Quoted from Zitt:

They don't exist Red or green transparent are his only options

That's what the lathe is for. I'll turn em if you want to polish em....oh...there's the dreaded "P" word again.

Oops...google show they're out there. Never mind.

2 weeks later
#762 5 years ago

I think I said all this a couple hundred posts ago, but I throw it out there again.

Your etching on the sides is going to pop if you can edge light the acrylic. The effect if even more pronounced if you can hide the light source. You could put lighting down the front pointing back, but that would hide all the pretty polish work you did on those front edges. Put it on the back facing forward, and you'll likely blind the person playing it. You might be able to put something top and bottom facing inward, but I don't know if it will reach all the etching in the middle.

Imagine the expression on the guys face when you sign up for a pinball show and ask for the darkest corner in the place.

Looking good.

1 month later
#842 5 years ago

In the mapping software I use there is a labeling technique called "halo". It is particularly useful in making labels more visible on aerial photographs. Softens up those sharp edges. Just a thought. Note the house numbers:


1 month later
#886 5 years ago
Quoted from Mk1Mod0:

Looked up OSHPark. Pretty cool. Will tuck that into the bag o' tricks for future reference. Thanks!

I could have done one on the router too. Especially being that simple.

3 weeks later
#914 5 years ago
Quoted from Mk1Mod0:

Now the fun part. This stuff actually peels quite easily... except for, you know, those parts where it was hammered into the acrylic by the sandblaster.

I know it would be a PIA to clean up, but maybe a little light oil (eg ie WD-40) as a release agent might help.

#921 5 years ago
Quoted from Mk1Mod0:

If only there were a magical drill bit that would do such a thing...

Flat bottomed hole? There is. Router bit with template. Or am I missing something?

#934 5 years ago

Should be quite the show-stopper. Hope we can both make it to Houston.

2 weeks later
#1019 5 years ago

I think you might have grabbed the wrong coin receptors. The receptors have 3 holes down the back. If the two of the holes have brass pegs screwed in, like it looks like yours does, then they latch in like on my old Gottlieb:


I think the ones you need have a latching plate screwed into the top two holes, like this Williams I'm working on:



I hate that I'm not going to make it to Houston next weekend. I spent all my travel money on a lathe. No doubt your machine will wow the masses.

#1053 5 years ago

+1 with btw75. The lube used in those things get cakey after a few decades. Throw in some dust, dirt, and schmootz, and they'll really bog down.

#1067 5 years ago
Quoted from Mk1Mod0:

Now for the bad news. Too many problems, too many playfield adjustments that still need making and it is as filthy and dirty as my mind. Maybe more. Nah, probably not. I do NOT want to spend my time there fixing and or worrying about this machine. Not gonna do it. This project is a year in the making and a few more months won't hurt it. I am going to bring two good reliable machines for people to play and enjoy. I am going to play other people's machines and enjoy them. I am going to gawk at and get pictures of people who are possibly geekier and freakier than me. And I hope to meet lots of you guys under better circumstances than "Hi. Nice to meet you... can you help me fix this thing?" I sincerely appreciate all the help that has been offered and given but I have reached my frustration limits and am giving in to relaxation mode. This trip is a vacation for me and I am going to keep it that way. Hope to see y'all there.

Wise decision. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away from it for awhile. Go enjoy your weekend and come back with a whole new perspective on the project. Besides, even if you got your largest problem solved, there would be dozens of little nit-picky things to drive you nuts. It will take a few weeks of playing just to iron those out.

1 month later
#1078 5 years ago

Glad to hear you're making progress.

Quoted from CNKay:

just noticed in RAY's tech tips, the gameroom collectables guys, stating DO NOT use flex file when cleaning your points the dust that comes off is non conductive and will make a mess of things. i thought that was interesting. for cleaning the EM contacts/points just use a steel file.

I prefer a contact burnisher and a drop of Deoxit. Files are just too aggressive.

4 weeks later
#1108 5 years ago

I have an old Gottleib 4 player EM. It steps through all 4 players, no matter how many are in the game. When a one player game is played and the ball drains, it steps through the other 3 players back to player 1. So maybe jumping to player 2 is not your problem, but failing to jump through 3 and 4 is?


1 week later
#1130 5 years ago
Quoted from rufessor:

Most excellent... You should be able to find another base plate without the wear... when you feel up to replacing it-

If not, bore it oversized and press in a brass bushing.

1 month later
#1159 5 years ago
Quoted from Andretti:

Truly, an awesome display of craftsmanship and dedication to producing a phenomenal pinball machine. You sir, are awesome. Congrats.

^^^^^ What he said.

In addition, I'd like to point out what an unforgiving material acrylic can be to work with. I've done some acrylic work myself (of course, nothing of this magnitude), and the smallest scratch will scream at you and can cost you hours of sanding and polishing. Throw LED lighting on it just makes it worse. You, sir, are a patient man.

I hope you didn't keep track of how much money you spent or how many hours went into this. Those are numbers you'd probably rather not know.

So when you starting on the next one?

#1180 5 years ago
Quoted from Insane:

I know that there is a trick to get the edge light to work better, it has to do with the clearness of the opposite side.

If you're talking about getting the etching on the cabinet sides to stand out more, simply etch deeper:


IIRC, the OP used a sandblaster to do the etching. I've used one on glass, but never acrylic. If you're using a siphon feed sandblaster, it takes a long time to deep etch glass. A pressure pot would work better. Can I assume the same for acrylic?

The hot setup on acrylic would be a cnc router. Avoid laser engraving unless you have a way to anneal the acrylic, the heat will cause stresses.

But then again, the OP may not want the etching to stand out more, especially if he's finding the light distracting during play. I also like the idea of turning off the lights during the game. A relay wired to the game over lamp would do it.

1 month later
#1238 5 years ago

Congrats. That's fantastic.

It would be fun if, at future shows, someone brought an original Sonic Super Straight and displayed them side by side.

4 weeks later
#1253 4 years ago

Didn't you say you had access to a lathe? You could whip up a pretty brass or stainless trim ring/bushing to take up the slack.

6 months later
#1274 4 years ago

We have interns (college students) here at work. I refer to them as "minions".

3 months later
#1314 4 years ago

Not for this project, but perhaps future. For your consideration: For the lamps that are supposed to illuminate the scoring reels, put a "shade" on them so they only shine on the reel and not directly in your eyes. And eliminate the other GI lights in the back box. Isn't that what the LED's are for?

My two cents. Prolly double what it's worth.

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