Pinball machines are a favorite for many people that remember them fondly from many years ago. Some of the modern versions of pinball machines can be found in many places from Dave and Busters to the few remaining arcades.
What Are Pinballs Made Of?
Pinballs are most commonly made out of carbon steel. However, they can be made from chrome steel, rubber, ceramic, gold, and silver. What a pinball is made of depends on the game you are playing and if the pinball is custom made.
These small balls have been used in these games for close to 150 years. Pinball games were even outlawed at one point! This article looks at what pinballs are made of and answers questions you didn’t even know you had about pinballs. source
Pinballs are made out of steel. Their diameter is 1 1/16th inch (2,7 cm) and the weight is 80 gram.
Almost every pinball machine made in the last 60 years is designed for this type of regular pinball.
There were only a few exceptions:
Bally’s Truck Stop (1988) used pinballs of 1 inch diameter. After designing the game it was found that pinballs sometimes got stuck on a ramp because it was too narrow. It was cheaper to sell the machine with smaller pinballs installed than to design new ramps.
Sega’s Viper Night Driving had Glo-Balls. These look like regular pinballs that are covered with a layer of yellow rubber. They weigh less: 60 gram. This causes for a special effect in combination with the blacklight on the playfield. The rubber layer also makes the pinballs bounce more and react more uncontrollable.
Glow balls didn’t become a success among players and operators, especially because they felt different whilst playing, but also because the rubber became dirty very fast and easily got damaged.
The most famous and popular non-regular pinball is the Powerball in the Twilight Zone pinball machine.
This game has five regular steel pinballs but also a white ceramic powerball. Size is regular but it’s lighter: only 65 gram. The powerball plays very fast. It’s also not influenced by magnets below the playfield. The game has special sensor boards to be able to detect if a ball in a certain position is a steel ball or the ceramic powerball.
Pinball shops now also sell ‘custom’ pinballs. Gold or silver (be careful as it’s sometimes a very shallow layer which comes off after a few games). Black pinballs also exist, even with different drawings on them.
Pinballs aren’t too complicated, and there’s nothing inside of them. Most pinballs are made out of solid carbon steel. Some manufacturers use a different kind of steel called chrome steel. Carbon steel is a metal alloy of iron and carbon, while chrome steel is non-stainless steel that is normally used on things like drills, forks, and knives.
Pinballs are small in diameter, only 2.7cm (or 1 1/16th in) so that they can fit through the narrow ramps inside of pinball machines.
Using a heavier or bigger ball will affect gameplay. You must get a properly sized ball, which sometimes varies based on the machine that you have. For example, in Bally’s Truck Stop machine, made in the 1980s, the ball was 1 inch in diameter, and so it kept getting stuck in the machines because the ramps on them were too narrow.
Pinball Adventures is a North American manufacturing company producing fresh and unique Pinball machines. Our goal is to create to the highest standards, and spark the same joy we found as gamers when we rolled our first quarter into that coin slot so many years ago. Stemming from a lifelong passion, Pinball Adventures is created by gamers, for gamers. We strive to bring high quality, innovative, and captivating experiences for all to enjoy.
Visit our website at pinballadventures.com and also check out our new Instagram page for more updates https://www.instagram.com/pinballadventures/
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