Aug 23

BRING ON THE “DEBs” – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow With Double-Ended Balloons

1974 advertisement that includes #321W bee body "stinger" balloons.

1974 advertisement that includes #321W bee body “stinger” balloons.

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow With
Double-Ended Balloons

——  “ROUSEings”  ——
By Graham Rouse


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Yesterday With DEBs

Link-O-Loons have been on the market over 15 years now, but the first double ended balloons I know about were the #321 (Bee Bodies) here in the USA. They go back to at least 1974 as revealed in the advertisement above provided by Ralph Dewey in an article on balloonhq.com and in his forthcoming book on the history of balloons.

Cover page from Mexican patent on double ended balloons from 1997

Mexican patent on double ended balloons from 1997

Emma Alverez, in Mexico City, was the first person I know to promote double-ended balloons for tying together to make larger displays. (She called them “Bipolar” balloons.) Emma applied for a patent in Mexico in September of 1995. It was granted in August of 1997.

About the same time Jean-Michel Lucie came up with the same idea in Australia. He took it to Premier Balloons.  They launched “Link-O-Loons” in 1997. Production spread to several cooperating manufacturers and then, I believe, was consolidated to the Sempertex manufacturing facility in Colombia, South America. I understand that even the Betallic brand Link-O-Loons™ we see here in the USA are manufactured by Sempertex in Colombia.


Link-O-Loons™spread around the world quickly from their beginning in Australia.  I believe that spread was a strategic move designed to flood the market and discourage other manufacturers from copying Link-O-Loons™.  It seems to have worked for many years.


Today With DEBs

photo of # 321Q Bee Body Balloons from Qualatex

# 321Q Bee Body Balloons from Qualatex

I believe that Qualatex Bee Bodies are direct descendents of those early #321 Stingers from Ashland Rubber Company, but it is only recently that  Pioneer Balloon Company came out with their own line of larger DEBs. Some will ask, “Why bother? Sempertex has that covered around the world already.” Others will shout out, “What took you so long?”

Overall, I expect Quick Links Balloons™ to be a welcome and long awaited addition to the market.

When Pioneer brought out Bubble Balloons in the USA they had an exclusive.  Therefore, they were able to introduce this new class of balloons slowly, test the waters and then grow the line of products at their own pace. Entering into a DEB market already flooded with competition, however, required a different strategy. It required a great deal more development time, commitment and investment up front.

I also recall Dan Flynn suggesting some years ago that Pioneer wanted any double-ended balloon they produced to advance the form and not just copy what was already available. Pioneer is now touting their Quick Link Balloons™ as having the “revolutionary” feature of actually being symmetrical end to end. I am not so sure that feature is “revolutionary”, but I have no doubt that it was difficult to achieve. And, I am also confident that this symmetry will prove useful to decorators and therefore also prove an advantage for Qualatex in the marketplace.


Tomorrow with DEBs

I expect Pioneer to reap substantial rewards from their commitment and investment in Quick Link Balloons™. Sempertex may see an initial L-O-L sales drop in areas where Qualatex is especially strong, but it would not surprise me if overall sales of Link-O-Loons™ go up right along with growing sales of Quick Link Balloons™.

Promotion of the Quick Links Balloons™ line will draw more attention to the DEBs approach to decorating. Sempertex L-O-Ls as well as Quick Link Balloons™ will benefit from this promotion. Sempertex, after all, is the established leader here. They have a long track record with DEBs. They have worldwide distribution, a great collection of published works made with their balloons, very large production capacity and a huge array of textures and colors.


You And I With DEBs

You and I, however, are likely to be the big winners. There will be competition among DEB manufacturers for our business. There may even be new entries into the DEBs market. We are likely to see more design ideas, receive more training, get more encouragement and find more support than ever before for advancing our art and building our businesses MadeWithBalloons™, especially double-ended balloons.


Thanks for joining me for ROUSEings™.  Do return for more 
Pictures – Instructions – Reviews – Musings
about all things MadeWithBalloons™.
Graham Rouse
Your host and author for ROUSEings.
© 2013 by G. Rouse

Copyright 2013 by Graham Rouse


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About the author

Graham Rouse

Graham is the owner of Rouse Technologies LLC, Clemson, SC USA.

He has 30+ years professional experience in the balloon industry.
He produces, publishes, exhibits and teaches balloon arts worldwide.
He has 5 patents on technologies for balloon professionals.
He is the creator of seminal innovations for the balloon industry:

(1) structuring balloon sculptures from inside
(2) building balloon displays with aperture frameworks
(3) manufacturing film balloons in connected series.

Graham's companies manufacture, distribute, teach and support Rouse Matrix Systems™ brand, Expand-And-Load™ balloon grid frames

Google More Rouse:

"MadeWithBalloons"       "JustRouseIt"      "Rouse Matrix

1 comment

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  1. Mark Zettler

    Interesting and insightful comments as always Graham. Thank you for your research. What I find most interesting are the current comments being shared online by many who are being blown away by this “NEW” linking technology that your article exposes so well as having been around a long, long time. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could open their eyes just a little bit wider to take in ALL the balloon world has to offer us in terms of great products, designs, equipment, colors and related materials?

    Sigh. Maybe some day.


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