An inflatable is an object that can be inflated with a gas, usually with air, but hydrogen, helium and nitrogen are also used. One of several advantages of an inflatable is that it can be stored in a small space when not inflated, since inflatables depend on the presence of a gas to maintain their size and shape. Function fulfillment per mass used compared with non-inflatable strategies is a key advantage. Stadium cushions, impact guards, vehicle wheel inner tubes, emergency air bags, and inflatable space structures employ the inflatable principle. Inflation occurs through several strategies: pumps, ram-air, billowing, and suction.
Although the term inflatable can refer to any type of inflatable object, the term is often used in boating to specifically refer to inflatable boats.
Types of inflatables
The range of Giant inflatable products include, interactive sport marketing inflatable games, start and finish lines and inflatable arches, inflatable point of sale displays [POS], branded inflatable tents as well as rooftop balloons and inflatable replicas Inflatable characters and inflatable mascots.
High-pressure vs. low-pressure
A distinction is made between high-pressure and low-pressure inflatables. In a high-pressure inflatable, structural limbs like pillars and arches are built out of a tough, flexible material and then inflated at a relatively high pressure. These limbs hold up passive membranes. The space where the visitors or inhabitants stay is at normal atmospheric pressure. For example, airplane emergency rafts are high-pressure inflatable structures. Low-pressure inflatables, on the other hand, are slightly pressurized environments completely held up by internal pressure. In other words, the visitors or inhabitants experience a slightly higher than normal pressure. Low-pressure inflatables are usually built of lighter materials. Both types of inflatables (the low-pressure type more so) are somewhat susceptible to high winds.
Typical examples of an inflatable include the inflatable movie screen, inflatable boat, the balloon, the airship, furniture, kites, and numerous air-filled swimming pool toys. Air beams as structural elements are finding increasing applications. Balloons are inflatables.
Smaller-scale inflatables (such as pool toys) generally consist of one or more "air chambers", which are hollow enclosures bound by a soft and flexible airtight material (such as vinyl), which a gas can enter into or leave from through valves (usually one on each air chamber). The design dependence upon an enclosed pocket of gas leads to a need for a very durable surface material and/or ease of repair of tears and holes on the material, since a puncture or tear will result in the escape of the gas inside (a leak) and the deflation of the inflatable, which depends on the gas's pressure to hold its form. Detectable leaks can be caused by holes (from punctures or tears) on the material, the separating of seams, the separating of valve parts, or an improperly shut or improperly closing valve. Even if an inflatable possesses no macroscopic leaks, the gas inside will usually diffuse out of the inflatable, albeit at a much slower rate, until equilibrium is reached with the pressure outside the inflatable.
Many inflatables are made of material that does not stretch upon inflation; a notable exception of this is the balloon, whose rubber stretches greatly when inflated.
The airship is usually inflated with helium as it is lighter than air and does not burn unlike hydrogen airships such as the Hindenburg.
Inflatables are also used for the construction of specific sports pitches, military quick-assembly tents, camping tent air beams, and noise makers. Inflatable aircraft including the Goodyear Inflatoplane have been used. Inflation by dynamic ram-air is providing wings for hang gliding and paragliding.