How Are Air Bladders Made?
Air bladders are primarily used in industrial, medical, and marine applications. In the medical field, air bladders are used to treat broken limbs and transport patients. You might also see them used as seat cushions in aircraft. For marine applications, they are often used as a flotation device with an inflatable raft or a floating bed.
How Do You Make an Air Bladder?
The method used to create air bladders is called industrial sewing. Air bladders are made by sealing two sheets of plastic or treated fabric and filling the resulting pocket with air or some other gas. This is accomplished by sewing or joining them on special industrial sewing machines. Custom sewn products that require higher stitch speed and precision use industrial sewing machines.
While industrial sewing is often accomplished by a skilled sewer using a machine like those made by JUKI, Consew, Brother, or Mitsubishi, water-proof and airtight seals can be made using high-tech RF sealing. You might use a heat-sealing machine at home to save your leftovers–the process is largely the same. The technology you use in your kitchen is similar, just on a much larger scale.
What is the function of an air bladder?
The function of an air bladder can be as simple as the packaging cushions used by online retailers when shipping products to consumers or as precision-engineered to exact specifications when used for life-saving marine products like a life vest. Air-filled fabric structures and buildings are also essentially air bladders but on a comparatively enormous scale. The function of some of these bladders is to create a cushion for something fragile (like a human being or even a precious vase), while some are made for staying afloat.
What are inflatable bladders made of?
The most common materials used to make air bladders are urethane, vinyl, rubber, plastic & polyurethane. In some cases, another type of fabric can be used as the base but coated in a substance more typically associated with water-proofing or creating an airtight seal. The most common of these is vinyl and polyurethane. This technique of coating a pliable fabric makes the base material stronger, more resistant to the elements, and far more likely to maintain a clean seal.
Is an air bladder reusable?
Depending on the implementation or use case scenario, an air bladder is likely meant to be re-used again and again. One main exception is the packaging pockets of plastic that companies like Amazon use in their shipments. While these can, and often are, widely re-used, they are thin and cheap to make in large quantities, making them highly disposable.
Medical air bladders, like most PPE, are made to be disposed of after use, but not in every case. Because some air bladders used for medical procedures are heavy and made of expensive material, they are coated with substances that make them easier to wash, sterilize and re-use.
How do you make vinyl inflatables?
The process for creating a vinyl inflatable is to unite two pieces of vinyl using industrial sewing–sewing. Nearly every vinyl inflatable is made by stitching or sealing. Seals are very common, using heat or RF signals to create the bond. While a vinyl inflatable could conceivably be a home craft project, most are not, and use advanced techniques best performed by a professional.
For custom-made inflatables, look no further than Vinyl Technology. If you have a project you think would be a good fit for us, get in touch today.