Date: 15th April 2008.
Anyone who buys a N-I-B (new-in-box) Stern pinball machine is liable to get more than they bargained for.
Apart from the machine itself, you get a cardboard box to either keep as a souvenir, pass on to someone shipping a game, or recycle.
In addition, you also get a good selection of silver protective foam blocks which help to keep the game safe on its journey from the factory. But what are they, and how are they made?
In previous years, games used to be shipped using more cardboard to protect against damage in transit, but it some cases those cardboard pieces, and the cardboard wrapped around the legs, created almost as much damage as they prevented.
So, in 2004 Stern moved to a new system of machine protection using a product created by Sealed Air Corp. Out went the cardboard corners and in came the silver foam pieces.
The pieces are formed inside the Stern factory by a rapidly expanding foam sandwiched inside the silver liner which is then pressed into moulds inside wooden boxes to form the appropriate shapes to fit the machine.
Well now the process has been picked up by industrial publication Packaging World Magazine. In their article they talk to Stern's Joe Blackwell and explain the company's needs, the testing involved and the eventual solution.
You can read the full article at the Packaging World website by clicking here.
If you'd like to see the Sealed Air blocks being made, take a look at our Pinball Expo 2006 Stern Factory Tour where all is revealed.
Whether you buy every new game that comes out or dream of one day owning a new-in-box machine, thanks to those silver blocks, you're more likely to receive your game in the same condition it left the factory.