Science Trail: How are balloons made? | Think Science India

Science Trail: How are balloons made?

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Be it a birthday party or an outdoor event,it is never complete without colourful balloons.The eyes of little boys and girls light up with joy when they play with the balloons or see them floating up into the sky.This month, we visit a balloon manufacturing factory to see what goes behind the production of these simple by highly entertaining colourful little things.

Extraction of Rubber

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It all starts with extraction of the raw material.Rubber, also called Latex, is extracted from rubber trees, which are mainly found in Kerala in India. India is 3rd largest producer of Natural Rubber only behind Malaysia and Thailand. Companies in Kerala process this Rubber in centrifuge machines and turn them into 60% Latex, suitable for production. This latex is then transported to various parts of India for their different types of use.

 

Vulcanization

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60% Rubber, which comes in 205 liters packing in drums, is heated up to 50 to 60 degrees and during the process chemicals such as sulfur, zinc chloride and zinc oxide in certain proportions are added to latex in a process called vulcanization.

Vulcanization is a process of converting natural rubber to more durable materials by addition of sulfur or other equivalent curatives. These additives modify the polymer by forming cross-links (bridges) between individual polymer chains. Vulcanized materials are less sticky and have superior mechanical properties.
Then this latex is allowed to cool for the next 2 days. After this, it is poured in separate dipping tanks along with different food grade colours.

 

Process of making Acid Solution

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Pic: Diluted Acetic acid tanks

100% food grade glacial Acidic acid is added in certain proportions to soft water, reducing its strength to 20%. This solution helps put a uniform layer of Rubber on the plastic moulds.

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Pic: Plastic moulds in wooden frame

Dipping Process


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Pic: Dipped plastic mould in Latex

There are plastic moulds of different Shapes and sizes fitted in wooden frames. These moulds are then dipped in acetic acid and then in Rubber tanks.

 

Drying Process
Dipped Frames of Rubber Balloons are then dried in the sunlight till such time that the balloons are completely dry.

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Pic: Drying under The Sun light

After drying, they are removed from the sunlight. They are now ready to be stripped off the moulds.

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Pic: Stripping Balloons from the mould

 

Testing balloons
Each balloon is blown to check for leakage with the help of an air compressor. Defective balloons are rejected and good ones go to the Packing department.

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Dispatch
Packed Balloons are then placed in cartons or jute gunny bags with proper sealing and dispatched to the customers.

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