The plunger is the item used on a pinball machine to launch a ball into the playfield. There are two types of plungers used in a typical pinball machine.
A mechanical plunger is the oldest and most common type of plunger used in pinball machines. These types of plungers are built using springs, a rod, and a handle. Sometimes a pinball machine can also use a mechanical plunger that also contains an autoplunger for things like multiballs.
An autoplunger, which was not used until more modern pinball machines is capable of launching a ball into the playfield without the player physically pulling back a plunger. Autoplungers can be used in all kinds of shapes and sizes that range from a simple button to a more elaborate handle made to look like another object, such as a gun. Autoplungers are often used to launch balls onto the playfield for a multiball automatically without the player needing to worry about it.
Some examples of tables that use an autoplunger are: