The Lab creates a stairwell ping pong ball drop comprised of laser cut parts

Author: Matt Leevy, Nick Johnson, Alex Thompson

Ping Pong on Staircase

The stairwell ping pong ball drop was a summer 2019 project for our interns to gain experience in the design and laser cutting spaces. It has given Innovation Park residents joy since the middle of July. 


The drop extends from floor 3 to 1 and takes about 40 seconds for a ball to go top to bottom.  Faceplates (1/8 Baltic Birch) were stained with ebony and cut on the VLS6.150.  Neodymium magnets were glued to the edge such that the faceplate would grab the top and bottom edge of the steel I-beam, leaving an internal pocket in which the ping pong balls can run.  The warped hole pattern provides a nice window into the mechanism and also enables quick access to any balls that might get stuck. Ramp pieces (1/4 Baltic Birch) were stained with ebony, cut on the VLS6.150, and also affixed with neodymium magnets at the corner joint such that part would bind the steel I-beam. 


Initially the balls ran too fast down the ramps, so a third piece was cut and magnetized into the ball path to prevent them from getting too much momentum and amp up the plinkage.  Folks are making special trips up the stairwell once a day to drop in a ball, so perhaps this is a health and wellness apparatus in addition to something that brings a bit of imagination to a hidden corner of our building.  All parts are easily removable for maintenance or improvement.