Bouncy castles, pool floats, beach balls – there are not many product categories as directly linked to all-out fun as Inflatables. But what is it that makes these peculiar air-filled tubes so special? We at The Shrunks have been manufacturing inflatable products for over a decade now and know everything there is to know about them. So here is our take on it:
Inflatables fascinate from an early age. To see something small, like a deflated balloon, turn into a big, bright, and bouncy toy within seconds “blows away” any toddler. Apart from air, these are filled with hours of potential fun and games.
Their peculiar combination of size and weight is another thing that just makes them a blast to play with. Whether you end up kicking around an oversized beach ball or whacking each other with gigantic air-filled sticks – inflatables are light and bouncy, even (or especially) at bulky sizes, which makes injuries virtually impossible.
PVC – The cornerstone of inflatable fun
They also pack a powerful one-two punch regarding affordability and portability, thanks to their versatile base component, PVC: A low cost, very durable, lightweight and non-corrosive material. Sunlight does not decompose it, the mechanical properties are not affected. Water (even salty seawater) and air cannot destroy PVC. This makes PVC perfect for all kinds of durable indoor and outdoor applications.
While the list of PVC’s advantages is remarkable, inferior material composites from no-name manufacturers do pose some health concerns. That’s why all children’s products that feature PVC must comply with the highest international standards for health and safety. Unfortunately, some do not and simply circumvent the regulations by not “directly advertising to children” (no children on the packaging) – but their inferior products still end up in the little ones’ hands.
At The Shrunks, we take our little customers health very seriously. That’s why we not only comply with the highest standards but exceed the international regulations. We only use state of the art, highest-grade PVC that is BPA-safe, Phthalates-safe, and lead-safe. It packs all of PVC’s benefits without any of the drawbacks. Make sure that every PVC-containing product you get not only for your kids but also for yourself at least complies with international industry standards.
As we already mentioned, portability is one of the staples of our products and inflatables in general. Their small size while deflated easily fits into tight bags or packed trunks. Keep them in some kind of protective container though: Just stuffing it into a tight corner without any protection can easily stretch, tear or pierce the material or damage the seams. That’s why we ship most of our inflatables with a rugged nylon bag that fits both, the inflatable and the pump required for inflation – one thing less to worry about when traveling.
Dreaded leaks and what to do about them
While inflatables are made from durable PVC, at the end of the day, they are air-filled tubes that can go “pop”. A culprit is usually a sharp object, poking a hole and causing the leak. While annoying, these are usually easily located (simply submerge the inflatable in water and look for bubbles emerging) and are quickly fixed with repair patches. We ship every product with self-adhesive repair patches as a first-aid kit to help prevent sleepless nights and little tears of disappointment.
Unfortunately, sometimes the leak is due to a production error – usually a badly welded seam. Many manufacturers of inflatable toys don’t pay much attention to quality control and simply offer inferior products at throw-away prices so that they don’t have to deal with customer returns – because who will take up the hassle of returning a low-budget item at some mass-producing manufacturer whose main concern is definitely not customer service.
We think that such an approach is neither ethical nor sustainable in the long run. A good inflatable product will hold for many years (if used correctly), especially if it has been manufactured with care. That’s why we give a lifetime warranty on all of our products that covers manufacturing defects – we are confident that our designs, the material we use and the way we manufacture make for durable products that can stand the test of time. And if not – then that’s on us and not our customers.
Why thicker isn’t necessarily better
While we think, that a hassle-free return policy is the best indicator for quality inflatables, some manufacturers out there make mighty claims to “inflate” (pun intended) their knowledge. These usually go along the lines of “x-times thicker PVC makes our stuff so much more durable”. Unfortunately, these claims hold neither water nor air but prove their lack of know-how. Because thicker material makes welding, folding and packaging more difficult, it actually increases the risk of production errors, thus resulting in higher defect rates and broken seams – the type of leaks that are almost impossible to fix.
The thicker material also makes for heavier products, which is never good for travelling. Additionally, heavy PVC sheets require more inflations to “stretch-out” to their final stage, resulting in uneven bumps and shapes. Finding the optimal thickness of the PVC-sheets to use takes time and experience, so make sure you are buying from somebody who knows what they are talking about.
More than just a balloon
Of course, nobody needs instructions on how to inflate a beach ball or a balloon – but don’t be so fast to ignore your quality inflatables manuals and instructions! They are your manufacturer’s effort to make sure you get the best out of every cent you spent on your inflatables and should not be ignored. They usually contain practical tips on correct inflation, valve closure, and other technical factors.
Especially with larger and more interactive inflatables, keeping the right air-pressure up becomes a balancing act: Never overinflate, as it increases the chance of bursting the welded seams – but always keep in mind, that the material stretches over time, which requires you to top off the air pressure periodically. Your inflatable should feel firm and show no heavy creases or folds, but still, have some give to it when you push in with your thumb.
As you can see, we could go on and on about inflatables all day, but you probably get the picture. While these air-filled, bouncy tubes look very simple and straightforward at first, the devil lies in the details. Look twice before wasting money on shady brands and rely on established manufacturers with a history and top-notch customer service.