Friday, August 26, 2016

Balloon Basics - Microfoil® Balloons

This type of balloon is often called a foil, Mylar®, or a metallic balloon. However, they are not made from foil as you would imagine. They are actually made from a bi-axial nylon impregnated with aluminium on the outside to hold in the small molecules of helium or balloon gas and laminated with a polyethylene (plastic with a low melting point) coating on the inside to allow the material to be heat sealed. The material is then cut to the shape required and heat sealed at the edges. 

Due to their material, Microfoil® balloons are less porous than latex balloons, so they stay inflated longer. This type of balloon is NOT biodegradable.

Qualatex® Microfoil balloons are available in a wide range of colours that coordinate with the Qualatex latex colour range. Microfoil balloons range from 4” to 36” with a wide variety of shapes and designs.

Conwin Precision Plus Inflator.
Correctly inflated Microfoil balloons are firm with uniform creases along the seams (you must leave space for heat expansion). The 18” size and larger can be inflated with helium or balloon gas. For correct inflation, use an Automatic Foil Balloon inflator. These inflators have been designed to fill any size or shape Microfoil balloon to the optimum size (leaving the correct amount of creases) and will automatically cut-off when the balloon has reached its correct size. Using the wrong type of inflator can cause damage to the valve of a Microfoil balloon, plus you can easily overinflate these balloons, which could cause them to pop.

Microfoil balloons that are smaller than 18” have been designed to be air-filled as they do not hold sufficient helium or balloon gas to float. In most instances, these balloons do not have a self-sealing valve and will require heat sealing.

'Balloon Pop' Design
By Sue Bowler CBA

If you are new to heat sealing balloons, check out 'Heat Sealing Qualatex Microfoil balloons and turn those little balloons into big profit earners.'

There are so many fabulous designs that you can make using the mini air-filled Microfoil shapes, and so many great balloons to choose from!

I love all the wonderful  "Animal Heads" that are available in the Qualatex range. They can be used to make a variety of different easy-to-sell and profitable designs and gifts.

Check out this short clip that will show you how to measure the ribbon tail, roll the Microfoil neck with the ribbon and how to make the perfect curl!

Attaching a ribbon to a Microfoil balloon
For a professional finish, it is recommended that you roll the neck of the Microfoil balloon with the ribbon inside, then tie and curl the ribbon. However, for larger Microfoil balloons, I recommend that you only roll the neck of the balloon to the point at which the valve starts. This will prevent the valve from accidently opening, which could allow for balloon gas or helium to leak out of the valve. This does not appear to happen with 18" & 20" Microfoil balloons, probably due to the fact that there is not the same amount of back-pressure against the valve on these smaller balloons.

How long should a curled ribbon be?
There is no official rule on this, but you do need to remember that the ribbon is an aesthetic part of a design, especially if you are making a centrepiece. If you want your ribbon tails to look consistent, I recommend that you measure them. Simply hold the ribbon from the neck of the balloon and measure to your elbow. This is the perfect length and all your ribbon tails will be the same. 

Elegant Curls or pigtails?

Personally, I like nice, soft, consistent curls and not tight pigtails that I often see on balloons. To make a soft curl, do not use the blade of your scissors; keep your scissors closed and gently run the scissors over the ribbon. If you get static in your ribbon and the ribbons start sticking to your balloons, simply wet your scissors before you use them and all the static will disappear.

Microfoil Balloon Helium Chart

To find out how much helium or balloon gas each size and shape Microfoil balloon requires, download the chart HERE
Please note that the listed average inflation sizes and numbers of balloons  per helium tank are conservative averages. A correctly inflated helium-filled Suprafoil™ balloon will float for weeks and can be easily refreshed by adding more helium. Holographic balloons can float between 3 and 5 days.

As professional balloon artists, we should follow and promote Smart Balloon Practices.

Over the years, the balloon industry has dealt with a number of challenges from utility companies, environmentalists, and other groups trying to ban balloons. These challenges have been faced not only in the U.S. but also in other countries through the world.

As a result, The Balloon Council established Smart Balloon Practices to ensure that the public maintains its love for balloons. This global educational and awareness campaign serves several purposes:

  • Educate consumers on the proper handling of balloons
  • Stress the importance of never releasing helium-filled foil balloons
  • Maintain and nurture the public’s positive feelings about balloons
  • Lessen the chance of anti-balloon legislation attempts in the future.

This campaign is only truly successful when all members of the worldwide balloon industry — manufacturers, distributors, decorators, retailers and entertainers — share the responsibility together. Here’s how to follow Smart Balloon Practices:

  • Keep balloons secured to a weight. All helium-filled balloons should be tied securely to a weight that will keep them from releasing into the air. Be sure to individually tie each balloon to a weight, so if they become detached from the weight, they will be individual rather then “clustered” (tied together) balloons which can more easily become entangled in power lines.
  • Do not release foil balloons into the air. Although it is very rare, problems can occur if they become tangled in power lines and they can turn into roadside litter if not disposed of properly.
  • Keep deflated or popped latex balloons away from children to avoid the risk of choking. Children can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons; adults should always supervise young children — especially those under eight years old —with balloons.
  • Although it rarely occurs, some people are known to have a latex allergy. Talk to your customers to find out if this pertains to them or the person to whom they’ll be giving the balloons, and educate them on how they can still purchase balloons and not be affected. Latex balloons are made of natural rubber latex and are biodegradable, but may cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to natural rubber latex.

The European Balloon & Party Council also runs a similar initiative known as the EBPC Code of Best Practices. To find out more, visit

This is Part 2 of Balloon Basics - to view Part 1 "Inflating and tying latex balloons," click HERE.

In the UK and around Europe, Qualatex Europe runs a 1-day course for beginners. This full-day seminar embraces all aspects of the balloon business, including health and safety requirements, balloon inflation, bouquet construction, and simple garland creation. It includes a comprehensive, full-colour manual that will be a valuable reference guide on float times, pricing, basic design principles, and more. To find out where and when the classes are being held, check out the Education Calendar HERE for full details.

The Qualatex Balloon Network℠ - QBN® program, is also a great way to learn the foundations of running a successful balloon business. This 3-part DVD program covers:

To find out more about the QBN program and the benefits of becoming a QBN member, click HERE

Happy Ballooning!


No comments: