Dates & Impressions

A hot topic: Nylon or Polyester

Ultimately every balloon manufacturer has to decide themselves which fabric they wish to use in the manufacture of their balloon envelopes.  When making their promotional statements however the fabric?s limitations should be acknowledged ? whilst it is understood that everyone wants to portray their products in a favorable light.

Fact is that when a range of fabric properties are considered neither Nylon nor Polyester is superior in all.

Over time two characteristics have again and again been used in the debate whether Nylon or Polyester is better suited for balloon envelopes.  For Polyester good aging resistance at high temperatures and for Nylon superior elasticity, stronger rip resistance and the durability of any applied coatings are regularly cited.

It is indeed a well know fact that Polyester when tested in an oven at 149 degrees Celsius, with dry air and no UV radiation, loses less strength than Nylon.  However such a comparison has however little relevance in practice.

Under realistic operating conditions, when high temperatures and UV radiations act simultaneously on the fabrics, the results are quite different. It is the combination of high temperatures with UV radiation which bring about the eventual end of balloon envelopes.  It is exactly this that has been shown by many years of operation of a large number of balloons.

The individual identification of balloons which have achieved high operating hours ? of which SCHROEDER fire balloons have a number of examples ? is of little use in the debate.

Opinion on the Nylon fabric used by SCHROEDER fire balloons was not formed on the basis of advertising, but has developed based on the experience of many balloon pilots over the years.  SCHROEDER envelopes are top quality with longer than average operating life.

When manufacturing material for balloon envelopes the art is to produce high quality results consistently.

This may be simple for examples for steels, but is much more difficult for fabrics and coatings.

The fabrics used by SCHROEDER fire balloons are characterised by their longevity, not only sustaining maximum rip resistance but also by maintaining minimum porosity.

The main reason renowned balloon manufacturers have selected Nylon as their fabric of choice is due to its better elasticity.  The more the fabric can give when loaded, for instance by gusts or wind sheer, the better the loads can be distributed evenly and transferred to the structure,

In areas adjacent to load tapes and seems, fabric stiffness is detrimental. It results in stress concentrations due to differing elasticity.  In these situations the stitching can be additionally loaded.  It is standard knowledge that Polyester is significantly stiffer and less elastic - therefore less suitable - than nylon.  This can even be audible when envelopes are exposed to gusty conditions.

For envelope fabric properties, such as UV stability, colour brilliance, fungus resistance or dirt resistance, it is debatable which fabric is superior.  Here optimal production processes are the key and advertising slogans such as ?now even more UV protection? or ?whiter than white? are acceptable.

At SCHROEDER fire balloons we work consistently on the quality assurance of our fabrics.  The actual fabric production we prefer to leave to the experts instead of producing our own in weaving looms.

We too would prefer to use the cheaper Polyester for our manufacturing but do not want to compromise on the associated disadvantages.  We stand by our current fabric choice and will continue to manufacture our high quality balloon envelopes from Nylon.

Hans Kordel

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