Bubble Wrap – If you are someone who is running an eCommerce business or someone who is planning to start one, you know how vital packaging materials are, and how they affect your business in a significant way.
One of the most beneficial packaging material is the bubble wrap. It is commonly used for a wide range of advantages it offers. Bubble wraps are light in weight yet strong, so they provide a cushioning effect. And so they protect the item from bruising and other damages during transit and rough handling in the warehouses.
Apart from its uses in packaging, many of us love popping the bubble’s on it. It is a great way to relieve stress. According to a survey conducted by bubble wrap makers in 2012, it is said that one minute of popping bubble wrap provides the same stress relief as a 30-minute massage session would.
But how were bubble wraps invented? And how is it manufactured? To get to know more pieces of information on this topic, keep reading this article.
How Was Bubble Wrap Invented?
Would you be surprised to know that bubble wraps were not invented with packaging in mind? Yes, that’s true. Originally bubble wraps were designed to be textured wallpaper.
In 1957, a US engineer named Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, who was a Swiss chemist got together to produce a unique type of wall decoration. A three-dimensional tactile wallpaper, which would be easy to clean and attractive. So for the very first time, in Hawthrone, New Jersy they put two pieces of plastic shower curtain through a heat sealing machine, and it resulted in a plastic sheet with air bubbles trapped inside it. But this textured plastic sheet was not accepted well in the market as most of the people didn’t like it as a wall decoration. Therefore, the idea to sell wallpaper failed.
Then they started thinking of using it for other applications, and they both started a company named ‘Sealed Air Corporation’ with the brand name as Bubble Wrap, and it is a registered trademark brand. During this time, they applied for several patents on equipment and the process required to manufacture this bubble wrap.
And eventually, they identified that these plastic sheets were lightweight and with good insulation properties, so they tried to market these plastic sheets as greenhouse insulations. But even there it didn’t work.
Finally, after three years, in 1959, one of the marketing person from the company named Frederick Bowers got an idea to use this as a packaging material. But they were wondering for which product they should use it on. Simultaneously, at the same time, IBM launched its 1401 variable of wall length computer. So Frederick went to IBM and pitched the idea of using bubble wrap as a packaging material for safe transportation. And IBM liked it, and thus IBM turned out to be Bubble Wraps’ first large consumer. Therefore it is appropriate to say that the bubble wraps created a great revolution in shipping and e-commerce industry.
How Is Bubble Wrap Manufactured?
The process of manufacturing bubble wrap starts from tiny resins and ends in huge rolls of bubble wraps. How does all this happen? Here is the entire process in steps:-
It first starts with different types of resins. The tiny polyethylene (plastic) resin are in the form of beads, and they are only about the size of pea gravel. Resins come in pellets, and each one of them has different properties. The nylon gives it strength, and the flex resin provides the material with an adhesive that is needed to make the bubble.
The pellets of resins are vacuumed into the extruder. Which is a long cylinder with a screw inside that runs in its entire length.
Heated bands heat the extruder for temperatures between 450 and 512 degrees. The heating process happens before the resin comes in. And then the screw turns inside the barrel causing added heat, and so it melts the incoming resin into a liquid. And then the liquid is squeezed outside the cylinder. Therefore it forms two stacked sheets of plastic film.
And then there is a drum with holes punched into it. So one layer of the film is wound around this drum and suction is applied to it. Therefore one web of the film is drawn into the holes which form the shape of the bubbles. Generally, the diameter of the bubble is from 6 mm to 25 mm.
Later the second film is laminated over the previous film, to trap the air inside the bubbles.
Finally, we receive the finished bubble wrap sheets which are 48 inches long and then are cut in length and width; it is also perforated every 12 inches to make it easy for consumers when they use it.
And then quality checks are done, rolled and packed, ready to be sent to the warehouses so that you can buy it from the site you agree.
How Can The Manufactured Bubble Wrap Be Used?
The most commonly asked question about bubble wraps is ” should the bubble be inside or outside?”. The answer is, for maximum efficiency you have to place the bubbles inside, that is close to the item so that you get an added cushioning effect. Instead, if the bubbles are placed outward, it may pop during transportation, increasing the risk of product damage.
The best part of bubble wraps is that they are available in many forms, as bubble bags, bubble wrap sheets, a bubble mailer and so forth. Bubble bags are very comfortable to use and easy to pack as they are like pockets. And sometimes it also comes with adhesives on one side to the contents in place.
Moreover, bubble wraps are also available in a wide variety of configurations such as cohesive, adhesive, volatile corrosion inhibitor and antistatic. Each one serves different purposes and is made distinctive by the use of different colours. For example, antistatic bubble wraps always come in pink colour, whereas volatile corrosion inhibitors are blue.