In October 2018, just a couple of days before the official unveiling of American Pinball’s second title, Oktoberfest: Pinball on Tap, Pinball News paid a visit to the company’s factory in Streamwood, Illinois.
The American Pinball factory and offices in Streamwood
Understandably, everyone at American Pinball was keen to keep their new game under wraps until the presentation in Wheeling, however the company’s Sales & Marketing Strategist, Nirmal Vasani showed us around their facility and, as we shall see, quite a bit more.
Inside the American Pinball factory
The offices to the left of the picture above are where the game design and development takes place.  On the opposite side is a room where the programmers are working, along with the office of the head of American Pinball, Dhaval Vasani.  Between them, and on the right of the picture above, is the doorway to the factory.
We examined the production line to see how it operates and to compare it to how other pinball companies, past and present, build their games.  The Houdini game is their current game, although work was taking place to build up several Oktoberfest machines too.
As expected, we begin with unpopulated playfields.
Bare playfields at the start of the production line
American Pinball source their playfields from two different suppliers, and there are a few telltale differences between them, such as the type of pattern used to diffuse light in the inserts and the hardness of the wood.
First, T-nuts are hammered onto the playfield to hold the devices.  Then the flat rails and ball guides are mounted.  These playfields are then clamped into a rotisserie so that they can start their journey along the line, passing numerous workstations where more and more playfield parts and assemblies are added.
With all attention focused on making the Oktoberfest machines there were no Houdini playfields being worked upon while we were there, although there were plenty of partially-complete ones waiting on the line.
Adding the T-nuts
Where the flat rails and ball guides are added
The Houdini playfield with flat rails and ball guides added goes onto the line
Each workstation has several parts bins, while above them is either a