[balloon-makers] polyester fabric?

Roland Escher rescher at rescher.com
Mon Mar 10 20:22:32 CST 2003

At 7:15 PM -0500 3/10/03, private e-mail address wrote:
I just found a source of polyester coat lining.  It's sixty inches wide,
and only a dollar a yard.  I have asked for a sample so I can do some
That's really great, Tom. As experimental balloonists, we need to
explore new materials and re-evaluate old ones. All the commercial
manufacturers (except for TBW) build basically the same balloons:
nylon ripstop with French fell seams. There's got to be more to
balloon building than that!
Polyester fabric has a higher operating temperature than Nylon.  From
what I remember, Poly has less stretch than Nylon.  I can't remember
whether that makes it more likely to break or not.  I also seem to
rember that Poly is more resistant to UV rays, but less resistant to
abrasion, than Nylon.  Note that I might be remembering these
qualities the wrong way around.  So somebody please correct me if I
am mistaken.
As others have pointed out, The Balloon Works has used Polyester
fabric since its beginnings as Barnes Balloons and continues to do
so.  I also know that several balloon builders in France have made
envelopes out of Polyester, all of them based on Arnaud Deramecourt's
software and pattern.  (I can't remember, but Arnaud himself might be
one of them.)  Since the balloon homebuilding movement in France is
much younger than in the US, they have less preconceived notions and
have done quite a bit of experimentation.  I've read about individual
builders conducting fabric tests in controlled environment chambers
(basically humid ovens, from what I understand) and with various
fabric pullers and tearers.  There are also several engineering
students working on balloon-related research projects.
As a final point, I seem to remember that Bob LeDoux wrote an
excellent article in the Balloon Builders Journal comparing Nylon and
Polyester fabrics.  (Or was it in the Bulletin de la Construction
Amateur d'Aérostats Française?  Or both?)  I'll see if I can dig it
Let us know your findings about the coat lining Poly fabric.

Gentle winds,
(off to bed)
Roland Escher
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