(Topic ID: 225339)

Why keep using wood for playfields???

By timab2000

5 years ago


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  • 58 posts
  • 36 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 years ago by vid1900
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    There are 58 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 5 years ago

    So here's my question...why keep using wood for playfields? Why not try something else like a hard plastic?

    Wood is not very consistent as far as atmospheric conditions. Swells up, warps, splits, it gets those nice dimples in the finish when the ball jumps around, and termites will eat it.

    So why not a thick sheet of acrylic plastic. This is where I think Hard Tops has a good idea. I do not work for them, so I am not trying to sell their products, but I did one on my Evel Knievel and I really like it.

    But instead of sanding down the old wood playfield, just make a thicker sheet and do a playfield swap like a CPR type playfield. You could still drill out holes for your inserts and the like, and maybe it would last longer and hold up better. No more waiting for layer after layer of clear to dry and all the crap.

    I know some will say, "cause that's the way the factory did it" and that's fine, but we also used to use horse and buggies to get around and then we invented automobiles and there was resistance to that as well. But we got past that too.

    Any thoughts?????

    #2 5 years ago

    My thoughts???????????????????????????????

    It's been tried in the past and was not a success, and this was before the implementation of heavy toys, ramps, mechs etc. Plastic warps, sags, melts, chips. Posts and screws come loose. Lord knows what kinds of things I haven't thought of or mentioned could go wrong with plastic playfields.

    I'm not really seeing the upside of interrupting a thriving industry for an unproven and risky plastic playfield experiment. Wood works fine and has for about a century of pinball manufacture. "Dimpling" only became a problem when Pinside invented it.

    #3 5 years ago

    Wood is a forgiving, strong, and durable material for supporting a lot of weight, mechanisms, screws, staples, etc.

    Plastic is not.

    Interflip dragon is actually a hybrid playfield. The bottom 3/4 is wood, and the surface is a layer of plastic with the artwork reverse printed.

    There were other experiments done by other major manufactuers with plastic playfields, but they never went into full production.

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/why-arnt-playfields-made-out-of-some-sort-of-plastics-instead-of-wood-today

    However, it seems like the future of playfields may be the hardtop overlay concept. I wouldn't be surprised if manufacturers started considering this.

    #4 5 years ago

    What did sonic use? Those games always have immaculate playfields.

    #5 5 years ago

    Sonics are wood with an amazing clear.

    #6 5 years ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    Sonics are wood with an amazing clear.

    that clear is about 3/16" thick, I think its a laminated overlay, its routed just like the wood is, and with sharp edges

    #7 5 years ago

    I've tried using bologna and hard salami for making a playfield but that didn't work out well.

    #8 5 years ago
    Quoted from Chosen_S:

    that clear is about 3/16" thick, I think its a laminated overlay, its routed just like the wood is, and with sharp edges

    Not even close to that thick. I've taken inserts out of sonic playfields, it's not even 1/16, and not laminated. It still dings and planks

    #9 5 years ago

    It's true. I had a mars trek in gorgeous shape but had some planking up top by the hole.

    #10 5 years ago

    Bally did it in the 80s

    Marsaplay did it again in 2009 on the first game to have a LCD monitor as a backbox display

    But players only like the feel and sound of a ball rolling on dimpled wood.

    (note the tubular steel rails needed to keep the MFD from sagging:

    39 (resized).jpg39 (resized).jpg

    #11 5 years ago

    Why is cement still used for foundations?

    #12 5 years ago

    Ok they tried in the 80's..... what almost 40 years ago. Plastic haven't improved at all since then I guess. Maybe a mixture of the two them would work.

    Save a tree and recycle a water bottle.

    #13 5 years ago
    Quoted from pinballsmith:

    Why is cement still used for foundations?

    Hell even cement mixtures have improved over time. Pinball stays the same. It's a shame they are not willing to innovate. But if it's not broke, don't fix it, I guess

    #14 5 years ago

    What manufacturer is willing to take the risk?
    Small manufacturer gets it wrong, they're out of business.
    Stem isn't exactly known for their innovation.

    #15 5 years ago
    Quoted from timab2000:

    Ok they tried in the 80's..... what almost 40 years ago.

    They did it again in 2009 - so 9 years ago, and players were still not loving it.

    Anyone who wants a plastic playfield for any title, can just get a clear plastic overlay for $100

    Hell, JJP will even install it for you at the factory, for an extra $50
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    #16 5 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Anyone who wants a plastic playfield for any title, can just get a clear plastic overlay for $100

    Yeah I have those and I like them. Doesn't seem to fix the flaws in a worn playfield (worn thru paint that kind of thing) though. Wish it did. I don't know, change is hard I guess.

    Just trying to come up with ideas to speed up the process of getting the playfields out to the public, without waiting years and years hoping they will be made.

    #17 5 years ago
    Quoted from timab2000:

    Just trying to come up with ideas to speed up the process of getting the playfields out to the public, without waiting years and years hoping they will be made.

    We just need more companies making reproduction playfields.

    We used to have IPB, Mirco, CPR, AK & Greatwitch

    Now we are down to 2, at the same time that the market for repos is at an all time high.

    #18 5 years ago

    I think a quality phenolic material would be perfect.

    #19 5 years ago

    “How exactly does the posi-trac rear end on a Plymouth work? -It just does.”

    #20 5 years ago

    Bally speakeasy has a plastic playfield. It doesnt wear. Youll never find one with wear. They held up great. But no ramps or toys, that could change things

    #21 5 years ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    My thoughts???????????????????????????????
    It's been tried in the past and was not a success, and this was before the implementation of heavy toys, ramps, mechs etc. Plastic warps, sags, melts, chips. Posts and screws come loose. Lord knows what kinds of things I haven't thought of or mentioned could go wrong with plastic playfields.
    I'm not really seeing the upside of interrupting a thriving industry for an unproven and risky plastic playfield experiment. Wood works fine and has for about a century of pinball manufacture. "Dimpling" only became a problem when Pinside invented it.

    Screws dont get loose in wood? Wood doesn't warp or chip? Plastic ifs awesome idea and I think it could outperform any plywood out there..and it would be mold resistant as well. That would be up to CPR or marco to develope

    #22 5 years ago
    Quoted from Bud:

    I think a quality phenolic material would be perfect.

    Bally did some Xenons out of phenolic in 1979

    #23 5 years ago

    Wasn't Sonic's method of clear coating highly toxic?

    #24 5 years ago

    Had an Elektra that had a thick clear plastic overlay over wood.

    #25 5 years ago
    Quoted from yellowghost:

    Plastic ifs awesome idea and I think it could outperform any plywood out there..and it would be mold resistant as well.

    It's heavy as hell ( a 1/2" sheet of plywood is 20 lbs, a 1/2" sheet of plastic is 100 lbs

    It wears out the router bits out much faster.

    It has to be routed at a lower speed

    You have to heat up each screw before driving it in so the plastic does not crack

    It sags under it's own weight, so you need metal side rails.

    It does make the baddest ass looking pinball machine ever

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    #26 5 years ago

    Bally tried on several games. I believe there were a couple of plastic playfileds on a couple of the Kiss prototypes with the speech.

    There were issues I am sure why it was never brought to production with several attempts.

    I personally think heat would be a big negative...most of us have seen smoke out of a machine...imagine a coil or something melting your playfield. I have seen melted inserts so not a big fan of my whole playfield melting.

    With current options Wood is still the best...

    #27 5 years ago

    Wood and a PETG veneer with artwork printed on the underside is the best of both worlds. No clear coat or wear issues but still cheap, light and easy to work with. Homepin Thunderbirds is using this method, maybe Team Pinball Mafia too.

    #28 5 years ago

    A pinball playfield made of G10, (garolite) would be indestructible. It's glass impregnated plastic. It's a royal b!tch to machine. I refuse to run it in my shop. It will destroy your machining centers. One thing you have to keep in mind, when dealing with plastics, is the ability of the artwork adhering to the material.

    #29 5 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Bally did some Xenons out of phenolic in 1979

    G10 is in the phenolic family.

    #30 5 years ago
    Quoted from solarvalue:

    Wood and a PETG veneer with artwork printed on the underside is the best of both worlds. No clear coat or wear issues but still cheap, light and easy to work with. Homepin Thunderbirds is using this method, maybe Team Pinball Mafia too.

    That is what we have now with the Outside Edge overlays.

    So people who like those, would be the obvious customers for a playfield like that.

    http://www.pinballgifts.com/hardtop.html

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    #31 5 years ago
    Quoted from chuckwurt:

    What did sonic use? Those games always have immaculate playfields.

    I had a Sonic Cherry Bell for a short time. There was a small nick in an area that was red in color. That nick looked different then a nick you would see in a piece of wood. I had to remove the pop skirts for cleaning. Under the skirts was a lot of bunched up plastic film that was bubbling up that I had to cut away.

    My opinion that that Sonic used some type of thin mylar film with reverse printing. It was a very nice play field. But I think a thin film reverse print was used.

    I have no idea how Sonic did the inserts; They were exceptional with no cupping, sinking, or raising.

    #32 5 years ago
    Quoted from indypinhead:

    One thing you have to keep in mind, when dealing with plastics, is the ability of the artwork adhering to the material.

    Yes.

    #33 5 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    We just need more companies making reproduction playfields.

    We used to have IPB, Mirco, CPR, AK & Greatwitch

    Now we are down to 2, at the same time that the market for repos is at an all time high.

    Actually there is 3. Mirco, CPR and Peter @ Buthamburg, although he hasn't produced a large amount of titles admittedly.

    #34 5 years ago

    We use a sintra substitute at work that seems to have very little flex compared to acrylics or other plastics. The size we use is about .75” thick and about 18”W x 36”L, so while not the full size of a playfield, it’s still large enough to demonstrate sag. You can print directly on it (unclear on durability). I don’t think it’s lighter than wood though.

    http://www.nhplastics.com/ecohips/

    #35 5 years ago
    Quoted from indypinhead:

    One thing you have to keep in mind, when dealing with plastics, is the ability of the artwork adhering to the material.

    Yeah, that would be a major concern. We find that plastics are very challenging to adhere other materials (glues, inks, etc) directly on to.

    #36 5 years ago

    Acrylic scratches. Sintra gets brittle. ABS melts.

    Sheet metal FTW - haven't you ever marveled at the art prints on aluminum? Amazing.

    #37 5 years ago

    Aluminum would be great, except for that it would weigh 60 pounds, dimple like crazy, and conduct electricity.

    #38 5 years ago

    I still think Richlite would be the way to go.

    It saws like wood. It drills like wood. It takes paint. Is hard as nails.

    https://www.richlite.com/

    #39 5 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    That is what we have now with the Outside Edge overlays

    I have the space shuttle overlay, haven't installed it yet. People today are putting such thick automotive clear on their restored playfields these days I don't know that people truly care about balls rolling around on wood, because they aren't.. They're rolling on polyurethane. Once the paint is ruined on a wood playfield, you're either attempting to touch it up yourself, completely stripping both sides of the playfield to have it professionally touched up, or you're still stripping everything off but swapping out the playfield from CPR.

    Wood will continue to be used probably forever more for playfields (at least as the main base), but I like the idea of art on a sheet that can easily be replaced. It's like people that ask "why are we still using asphalt for roads, why aren't we making roads out of solar panels?". Because asphalt is really cheap, it's pretty durable, and even when it wears down you still get a good grip.

    #40 5 years ago

    Wood is amazing stuff. Cellulose fibres are about 50% carbon and are long, thin and light. And crossed hatched in plies and resin has great dimensional stability. Plywood springs back rather than bends, it absorbs sound, doesn't melt, is a good temperature insulator, is non-conductive, can be drilled, filled, sanded, painted etc. And economical so in all very hard to beat. And wood grows itself so it's renewable. Richlite is similar to plyboard, ie: paper and wood fibre held together with resin, so might make great playfields too.

    #41 5 years ago

    What is the playfield made of on Jolly Park and Verne's World (Spinball) ? Seems like there's a clear hard plastic layer. Maybe it's on top of wood.

    #42 5 years ago
    Quoted from timab2000:

    Hell even cement mixtures have improved over time. Pinball stays the same. It's a shame they are not willing to innovate. But if it's not broke, don't fix it, I guess

    If they perfect the playfield , Pinside will still complain that parts still wear out. If the parts are perfected , the cost of said machine would probably be $50,000 a unit . Pinside would then have a meltdown.

    #43 5 years ago

    Phenolic sheets should get another go. It drills similar to wood, and is very rigid/dimensionally stable. I've used it in some manufacturing applications like high production count material runout tables, and I've been quite impressed.

    #44 5 years ago
    Quoted from Chippewa-Pin:

    What is the playfield made of on Jolly Park and Verne's World (Spinball) ? Seems like there's a clear hard plastic layer. Maybe it's on top of wood.

    It’s a 1/4” layer of reverse-printed Perspex on top of MDF. I’ve had a lot of games with these playfields and I love them. INDER, Spinball, SLEIC and some other Spanish companies used them.

    #45 5 years ago

    i have a bally rolling stones with a plastic playfield. it just feels different and apparently on route the mechs would fall off. its never happened in home use here , though.

    #46 5 years ago

    So playfields are overwhelmingly made from plywood - would there be a benefit to making 5 or 6-ply surfaces from plastic? It sounds like we are making assumptions about a solid sheet of whatever material. What about thin layers epoxied together to be a bit lighter?

    #47 5 years ago
    Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

    would there be a benefit to making 5 or 6-ply surfaces from plastic? It sounds like we are making assumptions about a solid sheet of whatever material. What about thin layers epoxied together to be a bit lighter?

    I don't think there would be any weight savings to layering plastic, you'd have the same density (plywood has air because it's engineered glued particles). Also how would you merge plastic layers? If you use an epoxy that's a lot of labor (expensive), you might as well make a sheet of carbon fiber. If you tried merging them with heat (like ultrasonic) you could potentially melt it where you don't want to and compromise the outside surfaces, maybe even warp the whole thing.

    #48 5 years ago

    Some things just have to stay wood.

    "Damn! She gives me major wood."

    "Damn! She gives me major plastic."

    See what I mean?

    #49 5 years ago
    Quoted from JodyG:

    Phenolic sheets should get another go. It drills similar to wood, and is very rigid/dimensionally stable. I've used it in some manufacturing applications like high production count material runout tables, and I've been quite impressed.

    It's expensive ($1500 a 4x8 sheet), heavy (4x heavier than plywood), and wears your tooling out fast.

    I can't see Stern spending the extra cash, but maybe some new joint will open that will sell "Ultra Premium Replacement Playfields" if the market will support it.

    #50 5 years ago
    Quoted from chuckwurt:

    What did sonic use? Those games always have immaculate playfields.

    A very thick piece of plastic sheet overlay.

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