What started out as an attempt at stylish home décor ended up revolutionizing the packaging world as well as the shipping industry and protecting billions of products shipped worldwide each year. Alfred Fielding and his friend were trying to create appealing textured wallpaper and they put two pieces of plastic shower curtains through a heat-sealing machine but ended up with a sheet of film with trapped air bubbles.
It took nearly 3 years before a marketer at Sealed Air named Frederick Bowers discovered a better use for this film trapped with air bubbles. He realized that material would work perfectly for protecting newly-designed IBM computers during shipping. After demonstrating its protective features, IBM got on board and began using Bubble Wrap to protect its precious cargo.
How it is made
Bubble wrap is made from tiny beads of resin with different properties. The resin is then combined and melted to form a thin film. Next, the film is flattened to the desired thickness and fed through rollers. These rollers have small holes which vacuum air onto the film to form the air bubbles. Once the air is blown into the film, it is fed through more rollers and sealed with another layer of film. Once the second layer of film traps the air, the bubble wrap is cut, perforated and rolled into large rolls of industrial sized bubble.
Types of bubble wrap
Their strength varies from regular to heavy duty. Each type comes with a proven ability to withstand external impact to prevent any loss or damage to the product.
General Purpose Bubble Wrap
General Purpose Grade Bubble provides an effective and economical packaging solution for wrapping products and protecting them from damage. The wrap rolls can be easily slit to width as per your convenience. General Wrap comes in two categories—regular and heavy duty, available in 10mm and 20mm thickness respectively. While the former is suitable for general household transportation, the latter is appropriate for packaging fragile products for professional shipments, relocation and storage in the warehouse.
Bubble Wrap comes in different grades:
- Single Layer = Regular Grade
● Double Layer = Heavy Duty
Bubble Wrap comes in different size of bubbles:
- 10mm, 20mm, 30mm
Custom Made Colors & Sizes
Bubble wrap rolls can be custom slit to any width and perforated to any length. They can be customized to suit every application and made into tubing, sheets or bags.
Metalised Foil Bubble Wrap
Metalised bubble wrap, also known as ‘foil bubble wrap’, refers to bubble wrap sheets laminated with foil to enable temperature-controlled packaging. Its thermal quality regulates the temperature of the products inside and protects sensitive goods from damage. This lightweight, the moisture-resistant wrap is used for packaging exotic food items, documents, paintings, etc.
Kraft Paper Backed Bubble Wrap
As the name mentions, kraft backed bubble is covered with strong kraft paper designed primarily for packaging wooden furniture and other heavy household items. Used mainly by furniture manufacturers and movers, Kraft Backed Bubble is designed to be tough and can withstand the extreme conditions of transportation and shipment. It also protects floor surfaces against scratches that can occur during the movement of heavy furniture.
Foam Backed Bubble Wrap
For those looking for extra protection for their goods, foam backed bubble is a great choice. Laminated with foam on one side, the roll is designed to provide extra cushion for fragile items that require extra safety during transportation. This 0.5 mm-thick foamed bubble wrap sheet not only keeps goods from breaking but also keeps the surface spotless.
Anti Static Bubble Wrap
Specially designed for electrical items, anti-static bubbles are a great option for packaging heavy machinery and electrical parts. Packaging electrical goods can be challenging since friction during transportation can cause fire and/or give static shock from regular plastic wrap. Anti-Static Wrap protects electrical items from static build-up and keeps the items safe. The sheets are pink in color to make them easy for people to identify..
Bubble tubing has been especially ideal for items that are lengthy in size and hence difficult to wrap. The unique protective bubble wrap gives complete protection to the items, making their transportation easier. The bubble rolls are available in 10mm and 20mm layers and their custom-sizing makes them convenient for use in a wide range of products.
Bubble bags provide a cost-effective, labor-saving protective packaging solution. They are available in a variety of sizes. These bags can be made with an adhesive closure flap for a secure seal. Bubble bags are most commonly made with 10mm bubbles but 20mm bubbles also come in handy.
Ease of use
Strength and durability
Good insulation properties
Easy to trim to the required shape and size
Transparent to enable visual inspections of the product
However, it must be kept in mind that in the instance of wrapping polished items, the use of bubble wrap is not recommended. There is a risk of it leaving small cell marks on the item that are difficult to remove. In this case, an alternative protective packaging material, such as foam would be better suited.
Can it be recycled
Well, to answer this, let’s reexamine what they are made from. And most of them are made from a thin, soft plastic called #4 low-density polyethylene film. It’s the same material plastic shopping bags are made from. This material is great at protecting and transporting items because it’s simultaneously flexible and relatively strong.
However, those very qualities make plastic films such as LDPE film notoriously difficult to recycle. Due to high tensile strength, they often get caught and tangled in the machinery of recycling facilities, which can damage equipment or even result in worker injuries. That makes them plastic nongranta in most of the small recycling plants and mostly end up in landfills.
The reason is that most of these plants are single-stream recycling programs and allow all of the common forms of recyclables, paper, glass and cardboard to be placed in a common bin. They are not segregated. There are, however, recycle plants that specifically recycle type 4 plastic that includes bubble wrap and that is where they must be dropped off.
The other alternatives would be to reuse or repurpose them such as:
- Reuse it as a packaging material for shipping your goods.
- Cushion breakable items in storage at your facility.
- Pack fragile items such as china when moving.
- Insulate drafty windows during the winter.
- Protect sensitive plants from cold weather.
Bubble wraps can get expensive if packing up the entire home for a move, so it’s better not to waste them. Picking the right size roll, with the right kind of cells allows packing economically without sacrificing safety. It is typically sold in rolls in sizes ranging from 100 to 300 feet long and one to two feet wide. It’s often perforated every 12 inches or so, which makes it easy to tear off the amount that is needed without reaching for scissors.
Packaging is an all-encompassing element of every brand and plays a vital role in the supply chain. The function of packaging often begins before the product itself is made, and continues well after the product is consumed. And manufacturing packaging that is suitable to specific needs or represents a specific brand requires printing and packaging machines. We at Machine Dalal have a wide selection of print, packaging and converting machines listed with us. Industry sellers from all over the world list their print equipment with us to reach interested buyers who regularly visit our platform to find equipment that matches their needs.