We use a technical material product in all of our structures. There are many benefits of using the inflatable material we use. We use a ripstop nylon with a PU coating on the back surface or inner membrane surface of a completed structure. This material is tried and tested across many industries such as kite making, hot air balloon manufacture, technical clothing and apparel and also in the sailing and mariner's field.
It is known for its durability, strength and lightweight properties. It also has great UV resistance, waterproofing benefits and due to its position in the market, a varying range of material weights and colours.
Nylon is a woven polymer, which is a type of plastic. Our products are made from this because it has all the properties we could want from an inflatable structure. The longevity of the product is where the material really comes into its own. Our products are due to last many years if stored in a clean and dry place. Our inflatable structures are built to last using a trusted and tested material.
Aren't plastics bad for the environment?
If used correctly then there is seldom a better choice for the use of plastics or polymers. We must consider that polyester, nylon and other synthetic materials, as they are engineered, can achieve a far tighter weave than an organic or natural product such as cotton. With inflatable structures, we need the material to expel air as little as possible. To do this we need a tightly woven fabric as possible. Imagine a loosely knitted sweater, you can almost see daylight through and therefore would pass air through easily. This would not work for an inflatable which needs airflow to create pressure to lift. Nylon is very tightly woven, but for our need for inflatable structures, it is not quite woven as tightly as we need. We, therefore, add a layer of polyurethane or PU to the fabric reverse side. This limits and majorly reduces the amount of airflow through the material. We need a fine balance between air leakage and air pressure for our inflatable structures to inflate and remain supported. The polyurethane acts as a barrier for air loss.
If these materials and coatings are so effective, what stops the inflatable structure from over-inflating?
Each piece of material is joined to another piece of material by a seam, there are several different types of seams, all have different uses and look different. Seams are made by stitching or sewing thread to the piece(s) of material. Hundreds of thousands, sometimes billions, depending on the size of the structure, of these minute punctures then become exit holes for the air filling the air cavity walls and roof. This creates a balance between air pressure into the inflatable structure and being released from the structure. The effect is a shaped structure that stands and is supported by air.
The materials we use are inherently flame retardant ensuring that the products we supply are safe and assured. As the material is synthetic, we also make sure the raw materials and the fabric we use is Rohs compliant and tested.
In addition to the technical and safety features of the fabric, we love the feel of the fabric. It almost has a soft and smooth finish. As our inflatable structure products look inviting and exciting, we constantly have our structures touched by the end-user, it’s almost a sensory activity in itself.
Working with lights and internal lighting, the product offers a kind of light diffuser and takes really to being back-lit. Internally lighting our structures gives a soft colour glow from within the air cavity walls. Hot spots are reduced due to the lights being separated from the large panels of fabric that act as a fantastic light projection surface.
To see how we use this inflatable material in construction, see our blog how inflatable structures work.