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Bubble wrap is a layer of plastic sheeting that consists of small air pockets placed adjacent to each other at regular intervals within the sheeting. These air pockets, which range from 1cm to 3cm across and 0.5cm to 2 cm high, offer padding and protection to items during transit.
Bubble packaging is generally used as a means of protective packaging used to cushion valuable or delicate goods. Bubble wrap consisting of small bubbles is generally used for small light items. Packaging with larger bubbles should be used with larger and heavier items. Industrial bubble wrap usually has a strong coating to help it last longer and ensure that the air will not leak when subject to heavy forces.
Lightweight but strong, bubble packaging offers the perfect protection for fragile items during shipment, without adding too much to the cost of postage.
Bubble wrap also proves itself as an extremely useful tool in the removal process. If you are transporting boxes while moving house, bubble wrap acts as a protective barrier to prevent any damage that may occur via bumps, bashes, scrapes and knocks encountered during the moving process.
Bubble wrap is water resistant and re-usable, so it can be used time and time again, provided you don’t succumb to temptation and pop all of the bubbles. This is not an easy feat because bubble wrap is also fun. People love popping the bubbles and listening to the pops as they burst each little bubble. There’s something quite addictive about the action and the noise that means that once people pop, they can’t stop!
How does bubble wrap work?
Bubble wrap is used to protect items during transit by simply placing a protective layer of plastic air-filled bubbles around the item.
As it is such a flexible material, bubble wrap is a fantastic product to cushion or protect the surface of any item. Among the common favourites for the bubble wrap treatment are glass, ceramics, mirrors, framed photos, paintings and television sets. However, bubble wrap is great for just about any delicate item, and it also acts as very good void fill if you have a space in box that needs filling.
To protect an item, take a roll or sheet of bubble wrap and place it around the item. Ensure that all sides and corners of the item are covered with the bubble wrap, ideally with two or three layers to ensure that a sufficient cushion is provided.
History of bubble wrap
The creation of bubble wrap was a fortunate accident. In 1957, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, two engineers from New Jersey, USA, were trying to make a textured wallpaper by capturing air between two thin sheets of plastic. Their idea for the wallpaper idea did not work out, but they soon realised that what they had created could be used as a protective packaging material. Seeing the opportunity that their inadvertent creation offered, the engineers founded the Sealed Air Corporation in 1960.
How is bubble wrap produced?
Bubble wrap begins life as a plastic resin in the form of small beads. These are placed into an extruder, a specialist manufacturing machine which uses a combination of heat and pressure - driven by turning a screw that runs the length of the extruder - to melt the resin beads into a liquid.
This liquid is then squeezed out of the extruder into two sheets of clear plastic film. One layer is wrapped around a drum containing lots of holes and suction is applied to draw the film into the holes, thus forming bubbles. The second layer of film is then layered over the first sheet and laminated. This process traps the air as the layers of film stick together and creates the bubbles that give bubble wrap its name.
Polythene is a porous material - i.e. it allows air to escape easily through its pores, a bit like a sponge. To ensure that their bubble wrap met the high standards required for packaging, leading manufacturers first used a special coating to seal in the bubbles, while now they have developed a method of retaining the air during the extrusion process.
Where can I buy bubble wrap or bubble bags?
Manufacturers and suppliers of bubble wrap and bubble bags include:
Discount Bubble Bags
Bubble Bags 2U
Bargain Bubble Wrap
Bubble Wrap 2U
Bargain Bubble Bags
Discount Bubble Wrap
Research & Resources
For further information on bubble wrap, from production through its life-cycle to recycling, including details of the different types of bubble wrap available, please visit:
Alternative uses for bubble wrap
Not only does bubble wrap serve the very useful purpose of protecting goods during transit, but it is also a fantastic source of entertainment or stress relief.
When you squeeze one of the bubbles in a sheet of bubble wrap, the expelled air forces the polythene to break, thus creating a crisp popping sound.
The popping of bubble wrap has provided entertainment to children of all ages for over half a century. The pop of the first bubble derives squeals of delight, fits of laughter and shrieks of surprise that, for many, do not diminish even by the time the 3,589th bubble is being popped.
Whilst bubble wrap can provide hours of fun for kids and stress relief for people who need to take out their frustration on an inanimate object, caution must be heeded. Popping bubble wrap is addictive. It has enthralled psychologists for decades. There is seemingly something about the bubbles that just draws people in and once they pop, they can’t stop. Among the most common reasons given by addicts for their relentless popping of bubbles is that “they are just there” and “they need to be popped”.
For anyone wanting to celebrate bubble wrap and all its uses, Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day is celebrated every year on the last Monday of January. Bake a cake, pour yourself a drink, grab some bubble wrap and say it together: “Pop pop! Hooray! Pop pop! Hooray!”
Bubble bags are bags either made of bubble wrap material or made of polythene and lined with bubble wrap material.
Whatever the type of bag, bubble bags provide the same cushioning protection that you get from bubble wrap, but with the added convenience of already having a ready-made bag to put your valuable items in. No need for scissors or sticky tape to fasten the bubble wrap - just pick the right size bag and away you go!
If you wanted to provide extra protection to your fragile or delicate items, you could take a series of bubble bags, all in increasing sizes, and place your item inside the smallest available bag - ensuring the item fits inside, of course! - before placing that bag inside the next largest bag for a double layer and double bubble protection!
One layer of bubble protection would be sufficient for most delicate items, although the amount of protection you need to provide will depend on a number of factors, including the weight and size of the item.
If you want to use more than two layers of bags and you have the bags available, then feel free to use them. In fact, if you could repeat the bag-in-bag process as many times as you like, one smaller bubble bag inside the other, like a bubble bag Russian doll! Now that would be protection!