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How do I make custom balloon art? (Not balloon animals) Answered

Hi I was interested in making balloons in different shapes. Similar in make to beach toys or those inflatable chairs. I'm having trouble finding information on how to make them from scratch. I'm assuming they're made of vinyl sheets but I'm not sure of the method to cut and connect them together, or where to obtain those air valves common on all inflatable balloons.

Any information would be great. Thanks!



8 years ago

latex balloons are made by dipping a shaped former into a tank of coagulant (generally a calcium salt) then into a tank of latex suspended in water - the coag makes the latex clump together round the former.

The wet latex is then dried in an oven for a while before removal from the former. It's actually quite a complex procedure and not one you can easily do on a small garage scale.


8 years ago

Generally it's done with heat, either through:

Conduction - press hot plate onto layered vinyl pvc sheet and it seals, less efficient because vinyl doesn't conduct heat well, so it damages the outermost layer in order to get enough heat to the junction which need to be welded.

Friction - Ultrasonic dies compress the seams and vibrate at such high speed to cause the rubbing joint to melt from friction, instantly fusing them. Much more efficient because the heat is generated at the junction, not on the outside.

Radiation - Similar to the friction process, a shaped die is pressed onto the layers, and a finely tuned gigahertz frequency power is applied. This functions very similar to how a microwave boils water, literally vibrating the molecules with radiation, causing them to heat and fuse. It is a different frequency than water because it needs to be tuned to the harmonic frequency of the material being fused.

Lastly, there is adhesive or chemical welding - playing on the idea that you can either adhere to the surfaces with glue, or use a solvent that temporarily reverts the surface of the pvc to its dissolved liquid state, allowing it to mingle with the other polymer strands in the joint, and when the solvent evaporates, you are left with a single joint.

All of the above 'heating' methods take a lot of work and are rather difficult in practice, requiring huge machinery and dies for a specific design. The chemical method can be done rather painstakingly by hand gluing the seams one at a time.