How Air Hockey Tables Are Built | How It’s Made


Narrator: AIR HOCKEY
WAS DEVELOPED IN THE LATE ’60’S
AND EARLY ’70’S BY A GROUP OF AMERICAN
BILLIARD ENGINEERS. WHEN IN PLAY, THE PUCK FLOATS
ON A THIN CUSHION OF AIR PROPELLED BY PLAYERS
AT EACH END. WITH NO FRICTION,
THE PUCK MOVES FAST, MAKING AIR HOCKEY
A HIGH-SPEED GAME. IN A GAME OF AIR HOCKEY, THE
PUCK LEVITATES EVER SO SLIGHTLY, MADE POSSIBLE BY A CONSTANT
FLOW OF AIR FLOWING THROUGH PERFORATIONS
IN THE PLAYFIELD. THE PLAYFIELD IS MADE FROM
A LAMINATED COMPOSITE MATERIAL THAT’S BEEN PRINTED
WITH AIR-HOCKEY GRAPHICS. A COMPUTERIZED DRILL CUTS INTO
THREE PLAYFIELDS AT ONCE IN THE SAME
CONSISTENT PATTERN. THE SIZE OF THE HOLES ARE
A LITTLE LARGER THAN PIN HOLES, CREATING OVER 4,600 PERFORATIONS
IN EACH AIR-HOCKEY PLAYFIELD. AN AUTOMATED TOOL
CARVES GROOVES IN A SHEET OF MEDIUM-DENSITY
FIBER BOARD. THE BOARD WILL SERVE AS A BASE
FOR THE PLAYFIELD. AIR WILL CIRCULATE
IN THE GROOVES, AND EXIT THROUGH
THE PLAYFIELD HOLES. NEXT, SAWDUST IS BLASTED
OUT OF THE GROOVES. THE GROOVES’ FIBERBOARD
MOVES THROUGH A GLUE APPLICATOR. THE RUBBER ROLLER
COATS THE TOP OF THE BOARD WITH A SMALL
AMOUNT OF GLUE, SO IT DOESN’T SEEP
INTO THE GROOVES. AS THE BOARD EXITS, TECHNICIANS
MOVE THE BOARD ONTO A STACK. ONCE THE BOARD IS IN
THE CORRECT POSITION, THE LAMINATE IS APPLIED, AND ALIGNED WITH THE GROOVES
IN THE FIBER BOARD. A CARDBOARD COVER IS PLACED
ON THE LAMINATE FOR PROTECTION AS THE STACK
MOVES THROUGH A PRESS. THE WEIGHT OF THE PRESS
SQUEEZES THE STACK TOGETHER, ENSURING ADHESION
AS THE GLUE CURES. MEANWHILE, A CRAFTSWOMAN
APPLIES STICK-ON GRAPHICS ONTO THE SIDE APRON BOARDS. SHE OPENS A PRE-CUT SLOT
FOR A COIN DOOR, AND EXPOSES A HOLE
FOR A BOLT. SHE CUTS OPEN A SLOT
FOR MAINTENANCE ACCESS, AND REMOVES THE PANEL
THAT WILL SERVE AS A DOOR. SHE NUMBERS THE DOOR
AND THE SIDE APRON PIECE SO SHE CAN MATCH THEM UP LATER
DURING INSTALLATION. AFTER APPLYING ARTWORK
TO THE END PANELS, ANOTHER TECHNICIAN ASSEMBLES
CURVED CORNER PARTS… …AND LINKS MENTAL BRACKETS
TO THE SIDE APRON PARTS. HE INSTALLS A BRACKET
FOR A PUCK DEFLECTOR IN THE CENTER
OF THE END PANEL… …AND SCREWS DOWN
THE CORNER CONNECTORS. HE SETS THE END PANELS
IN AN UPSIDE-DOWN POSITION ON THE WORK SURFACE, AND ATTACHES THE SIDE BOARDS
TO THE CORNER CONNECTORS. THIS COMPLETES
THE TABLE APRON. A LOCKED DOOR IS INSTALLED
IN THE PLYWOOD FLOOR. THIS WILL SERVE AS AN INTERIOR
STORAGE COMPARTMENT. NEXT, A CRAFTSMAN
INSTALLS THE COIN DOOR, AND SECURES IT
INTO PLACE. HE MOUNTS WIRE SPEAKERS
THAT PROJECTS SOUND EFFECTS TO A COMPUTERIZED
OPTICAL SYSTEM THAT TRACKS
THE PUCK’S MOVEMENTS. ONCE THE STRUCTURE
IS FITTED WITH WOODEN PANELS, THE GAME’S FLASHING LIGHTS AND
SENSOR ACTIVATORS ARE INSTALLED. AT ANOTHER STATION, A TEAM FLIPS A PLAYFIELD OVER
TO WORK ON THE BACK. ONE TECHNICIAN ATTACHES A BOARD
ABOVE THE OPEN GROOVES, CREATING A CHAMBER
FOR AIRFLOW. THE MOTOR AND FAN ARE INSTALLED
OVER THE SMALL OPENING. THIS SYSTEM WILL BLOW AIR
INTO THE GROOVES AND THE PLAYFIELD
PERFORATIONS. THE PLAYFIELD
IS TURNED OVER, AND LOWERED ONTO
THE TABLE STRUCTURE. NEXT, ALUMINUM BUMPERS ARE
ATTACHED TO THE TABLE’S BORDER AS A BARRIER
FOR THE PUCK DURING PLAY. A TECHNICIAN INSTALLS GOAL PUCK
DEFLECTORS ON THE ENDS… …AND SCREWS IN METAL PLATES
OVER THE DEFLECTOR CUPS. HE INSTALLS A LOCK
ON EACH GOAL COMPARTMENT, SO NO ONE CAN
STEAL THE PUCK. FINALLY, THE AIR-HOCKEY TABLE
ASSEMBLY IS COMPLETE. LET THE GAMES BEGIN.

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