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The many advantages of industrial inflatable structures

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article image A field hospital created using an inflatable structure
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Inflatable products are widely used in a broad range of industrial applications today, having evolved into sophisticated, all-weather structures that can withstand diverse environments. With versatile application in the industrial, military, construction, mining, engineering, architectural, safety, emergency and aerospace sectors, the air-supported inflatable structures offer numerous benefits over traditionally built alternatives.

Inflatables can be used as a portable shelter, an emergency hospital, an inflatable all-weather wall when the overhead structure cannot support conventional material walls or even a furnace inspection safety mat and inspection platform among many more applications.

Thad Fredrickson, manager of materials development for ILC Dover in Frederica, Delaware explains that inflatables typically offer a more elegant engineering solution because they are simple by design. Additionally, they require fewer mechanical parts, pack tightly and take up very little volume.

Inflatable structures also combine a low-energy production process with recyclable fabrics, water-based coatings and low-energy fans and blowers to provide an eco-friendly solution.

Key considerations when selecting materials for inflatables include tensile strength in both warp and weft of the fabric; tear and rip resistance to reduce accidental damage; coating adhesion to the fabric under all conditions of operation; and weathering resistance and ability to easily clean, including resistance to UV degradation, abrasion resistance and retention of physical properties after long periods of exposure.

One should also keep in mind the suitability of the material for joining techniques, which retain the full strength of the base material and integrity and properties of the coatings; pliability and flexibility to prevent damage during packing, storage and handling, as well as ability to shape conform to applied pressures and forces; fire-retardant properties and flame spread resistance to meet fire and safety codes; and translucence or opacity, along with insulating properties.

The need for reliable, lightweight, compact and affordable shelters that can be rapidly loaded and deployed will continue to grow with inflatable products meeting all of these requirements.

Please visit the Giant Inflatables Industrial website www.giantinflatablesindustrial.com.au for more information.

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