SCHOTT solutions no. 2/2011 > Contour Lighting

Special lighting effects like the so-called glow wire effect are the highlight of the premium edition of the new TRON Legacy pinball machine. This model focuses on the science fiction film of the same name from Disney from 2010. Photo: Stern Pinball Inc.

ElecTRONic Light Show

Stern Pinball Inc. is the world’s only remaining pinball machine manufacturer. They use Sidelights from SCHOTT for the edition of their ”TRON Legacy”.

Eveline Bürgi

As recently as the 90s, you still saw them in nearly every bar, arcade, mall, and even some private homes. Their flashing lights and noisy computerized sounds drew everyone’s attention to these pinball machines. ”The ball is wild,” pinball ­machine pioneer Harry Williams used to say – and how right he was!

The precursors of today’s pinball machines called for steel balls to be shot up to the top of a sloped playing field where they would bounce off of obstacles on their way down or be intercepted by marked areas, in which case the player was awarded points. The success story of pinball machines actually dates back to 1947, however, when Harry Mabs first invented the pinball flippers that give the game its name. The two buttons on the side allowed the player to actively take part in the game. Metal gradually replaced the wooden housings, and solid-state electronics began to be used in the late 70s. Had it not been for video games and PCs entering the scene at that time and decimating their market share, pinball machines might still dominate the arcade game industry. Still, thanks to new technical features and exciting designs, these flashing machines never quite lost their appeal. “They were always able to create a magic link between the player and the ball,” explains Jody Dankberg, Marketing Manager at Stern Pinball in Chicago. Pinball fans are fascinated by their pinball machines because they are designed based on popular movie themes, but also various sports and other entertainment topics. Stern’s latest highlight is a machine called ”Tron” that the company started manufacturing in June of 2011 based on the 3D science fiction film “Tron Legacy” that Disney brought out in 2010. Stern plans to build 1,500 Tron-themed pinball machines by the end of 2011; of these, 400 will be a special premium version equipped with SCHOTT’s patented Sidelights. The Sidelights create a lighting effect much like the ”glow wire” effect in the movie.
Photo: Stern Pinball Inc.
SCHOTT already puts the innovative conductor technology in Sidelights to use in the interior designs of automobiles, like the new Mini Countryman for instance, but also for ambient and mood lighting in airplanes and medical applications. According to Carl VanDommelen, Business Manager at SCHOTT Lighting and Imaging, working with Stern Pinball now gives SCHOTT the chance to push existing products and technologies in new directions and discover previously unknown opportunities and potential new markets – In other words, continue to innovate.

SCHOTT flexible contour lighting systems allow LEDs to feed glass fibers with the desired colors and intensities of light from one end of the fiber to the other. This system offers two key advantages over conventional LED lights: uniform brightness and truer colors, both of which heighten visual appeal. Technical advantages include low installation depths, excellent temperature management, long service life, little to no main-tenance, and most importantly, outstanding flexibility: perfect conditions for an elecTRONic light show. <|

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