The facts about foil balloons are not as comprehensive as those of the latex balloon. They were first developed in New York for the ballet in 1976. The silver metallised balloons were first referred to as Mylar balloons and are made from sheets of nylon and plastic put together usually called polyethylene which are then coated with aluminium which basically is nylon sheet coated on one side with polythene and metallised on the other, which is why they are referred to as foil balloons. Foil balloons are sometimes called Mylar which is incorrect as Mylar is a trade mark name for a certain type of polyester film made by Du Pont, nowadays foil balloons can be made cheaper than the Mylar way and so that way is very rarely used. The idea for the metallisation of plastic sheeting first came from NASA.
The cost of producing foil balloons are far greater than the production of latex balloons and even though their molecular structure is far greater than inflated latex, they will still lose helium out of the seal used to inflate them and start to lose height and become wrinkly, the good thing is however in most cases you can refill them to keep a display going longer.
Foil balloons unlike latex balloons unfortuantely are not biodegradeable as they are part aluminium, however, this is not the only reason that they should not be released outdoors, as due to the metal contained in the manufacture of foil balloons they can conduct electricity and therefore if they become enmeshed with power cables they can cause power outages.
Polyesters are thermo setting polymers eg once put together heating them will not melt them, heat them enough and they burn, this means that Mylar balloons cannot be heat sealed, however with thermoplastic polymers reheating will melt them and cooling will then solidify them again, this means in the case of foil balloons made with thermoplastic polymers can be heat sealed together.
Custom shaped foil balloons were originally made by Gary Felix and made by hand, and his company designed the Olympic foil balloons for the 1984 Olympics, however, nowadays they can be made into any shape or size and can be done by machine which makes them far cheaper and so more available for general use. Foil balloons can be recycled and therefore are eco friendly.