When you describe a balloon, you are usually talking about the brightly colored panels of fabric sewn together in a multitude of pattern combinations otherwise know as the “envelope”.
While there are many different envelope designs, there are many essential elements such as horizontal and vertical load tapes, the parachute and mouth geometry, the envelope suspension cables, even the seam construction which are inherent to all shapes and considered critical to the balloon’s ultimate airworthiness and durability.
Years of experience in the balloon industry have shown repeatedly a smooth shape is the best for most applications and beyond that a bulbous envelope while it may be more attractive to some is somewhat more difficult to inflate and deflate in some wind conditions.
At Lindstrand, we primarily use nylon base fabrics woven and coated to our specifications. The base panel and Scoop on all our envelopes are made of Nomex™. This fire-resistant fabric is used in everything from race car driver’s suits to fireman’s apparel. It comes in 7 standard colors. Beginning just above the nomex, we use our standard rip-stop (17 standard colors) or DiamondWeave™ fabric (19 color choices).
New to us in 2007, Lindstrand was pleased to announce the addition of Diamond Weave™ fabric. Originally developed by Aerostar International and Performance Textiles in 1993, this fabric has an outstanding reputation for longevity and a brilliant sheen. Diamond Weave™ is now an exclusive product to Lindstrand Balloons USA. Aerostar continues to test every batch of fabric to assure that the quality is maintained and this fabric continues to meet expectations.
The parachute is made of Hyperlife™, this well proven fabric offers strength and most importantly durability against premature coating failures where you need it most, at the top of the balloon. Most customers choosing standard ripstop for the base fabric will chose the upper one-third or top half to be Hyperlife fabric.
Engineering and Workmanship
All you have to do is look at a Lindstrand and any other brand side-by-side and you will be struck by the attention to detail and quality of construction in a Lindstrand balloon. This emphasis on quality construction translates to enhanced ease of operation and maintenance for you.
A balloon is made up of vertical segments, known as gores, and each gore is made from a series of horizontal panels. The panels are joined together with a french-felled seam using a locking stitch, two rows of stitching passes through all four layers of fabric. Gores are joined together in the same manner with the addition of a vertical load tape added at the same time.
The vertical load tapes are the primary load bearing structure of the balloon, the horizontal load tapes (located on the inside of the envelope) are there for additional safety to stop a rip or tear from spreading.
You’ll also notice on close inspection some extra protection at the cable to envelope junction. Each individual cable is sleeved with a nomex pockets to protect against heat and abrasion.
The nomex and nylon junction (between the black and white)of this other brand has a scalloped effect indicating uneven fabric stresses.
Lindstrand shows properly designed mouth geometry; all panels evenly stressed.
In a Lindstrand, we use Non-Metallic lines to center the parachute. This greatly reduces the amount of line stretching or shrinkage from heat, as well as, any line adjustment or retying valve centering lines at annual inspections.
The Envelope is a Canvas…. Express Yourself or Your Company
A 32 ft. tall pink bus, 25 ft. tall butterflies, or a corporate image 40 ft. long, all of these are routine requests for Lindstrand balloons. Nothing is too large, nor too complex for our artwork department. Our graphic designers will help turn your ideas into an accurate computer-aided visual, and our artists and seamstresses turn the “visual” into reality.
We have three standard envelope shapes which we offer in many sizes. The Lindstrand “A” series is a 24 or 28 gore envelope (depending on volume) made up of individually cut horizontal panels allowing you multiple color change opportunities for no additional cost. This almost flat surface is ideally suited for any type of artwork application including banners. We offer 13 sizes ranging from 42,000- 310,000 cubic ft.
The Lindstrand “B” series is a 12 gore envelope also utilizing a horizontal panel design allowing multiple color changes for no additional cost. This moderately bulbous envelope has a very traditional look and comes in four sizes: 69,000; 77,000, 90,000 and 105,000 cubic feet.
The Lindstrand “X” series is a 24 gore smooth envelope with a taller profile. It has an internal baffle ring to increase fuel economy and help maintain it’s natural shape during quick ascent and descent maneuvers. This smooth surface lends itself well to graphics. The “X” is offered in 56,000; 60,000 and 69,000 cubic ft. sizes.
Size Really Does Matter!
With so many sizes of envelope to choose from, how do I know what is right for me? First you need to determine how you’re going to use the balloon and where it is going to be flown most often. Are you primarily interested in balloon competition, where you will either fly solo or occasionally fly with a single person on board?
Is this going to be a hobby shared with family and friends? If so, you will probably always want the ability to fly at least two passengers with you, making a 77,000 or 90,000 cubic ft. balloon a good choice.
Or perhaps you’re an experienced pilot and want to get more serious about taking passengers-for-hire? Where will most of your flying be done? … in the Midwest, desert Southwest, Florida, etc. Will you be starting out at sea-level or 5,000 ft. AGL before ever getting off the ground?
Answers to these basic questions start to determine if you need a 56,000 or a 310,000 cubic ft. balloon. Talking with your local Lindstrand dealer or one of our factory sales people will help get you started in the right direction.