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How hot air balloons are made

18/07/2014 Jo Bailey Features

A hot air balloon is simply a large envelope of material that, when filled with gas, is able to lift off into the sky and float along. It is able to do this thanks to the displacement of air.

If you have ever wondered how a hot air balloon is manufactured, this is the article for you. Here is a rough guide to how hot air balloons are made:

Envelope

The main part of a hot air balloon is the envelope, which is often referred to as a balloon. This is the big fabric part that is inflated when the balloon is in flight. The envelope can be made with a range of different materials, but in Europe, they are usually made from a mixture of polyester (Dacron) and nylon, which creates a light material.

The nylon and Dacron is woven into a light mesh structure, which enables the passage of air through the envelope. It is then coated with polyurethane, which acts like a sealant, and an ultraviolet inhibitor that helps to protect the balloon’s coating from the sun’s powerful rays.

The envelope is also fitted with a parachute and rip panel, which are used to keep the balloon in control. Rip panels are typically made from Velcro, while the parachute is made in a similar way to the envelope.

The envelope is produced by sewing together a number of gores. The coating is then applied to the envelope using a mechanical pressure system.

Basket

All hot air balloons are fitted with a basket. It is inside the basket that the pilot and passengers reside during their journey. The vast majority of baskets are made from a mixture of rattan and willow, with a floor fashioned out of wood. The edges of hot air balloon baskets are typically bound with rawhide, leather or suede, and steel wires are added to the construction in order to hold the balloon’s burner frame.

To make the basket, manufacturer’s first measure and build the floor, using plywood and runners. They then create a frame, typically using cane. The steel wires are then added to the corners and the basket weaved and coated with a protective varnish, before the edging is put into place.

Burner

The burner is the part of the hot air balloon that powers the vehicle. It consists of a propane burner and several fuel tanks, which are attached by a hose. The burner is used to heat the gas inside the envelope and regulate the height of the balloon.

The manufacture of hot air balloon burners is usually outsourced to a third party. The various components are assembled in factories and then shipped back to the ballooning companies, who then attach them to the basket wires and solder into place.

All of the component parts of the craft are then put together and the balloon can be tested to ensure that it is safe to use. Hot air balloons must be extensively tested before they can be sold.

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