There’s no denying that bubble wrap can be a lot of fun. We’ve all enjoyed the act of popping those little bubbles, though it’s unclear why we enjoy it so much. Since its invention in 1960, this has been one of the most popular packaging materials. Bubble wrap does a good job of protecting fragile goods at a minimal price. Today, we are going to delve into this subject and teach you everything you could ever need to know about bubble wrap.
Everything You Need To Know About Bubble Wrap
As you probably know, bubble wrap is a type of packaging that consists of a plastic sheet. This sheet is covered at regular intervals by small air-filled bubbles. The effect is something like that of an air mattress, as the air-filled bubbles provide a soft cushion for fragile items. Most of the time, bubble wrap will have one flat side and one textured side.
Curiously, bubble wrap was not invented for the packaging industry. Rather, it was originally intended to serve as a new type of wallpaper. Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes wanted to produce a 3-dimensional wallpaper made of plastic. As you might guess, this idea was a failure. Although it can be used as one layer of a soundproofing system, bubble wrap is not used as wallpaper today. What we see here is a failed experiment turned out to be far less of a failure than originally believed.
Different Types Of Bubble Wrap
Some people are surprised to learn that there are multiple types of bubble wrap, but those people have obviously never looked that closely at a sheet of this substance. Admittedly, most people don’t give much thought to packaging, so this isn’t too surprising.
First, we should talk about the standard form of bubble wrap. This type needs no detailed explanation because we’ve all seen this stuff. The vast majority of the bubble wrap you will encounter will be of the standard type. This is the case because standard bubble wrap is both cheap and versatile. That being said, you can get standard bubble wrap in a variety of different bubble sizes.
Oversized bubble wrap is one of those variations, and can easily be distinguished by its extra-large bubbles. Those with larger bubbles are more satisfying to twist and pop, but that’s not our primary concern here. Because these larger bubbles hold more air, they provide a greater amount of cushioning. Thus, this type of bubble wrap would be suitable for extra-fragile items.
Still, there are times when you need something even more effective. For instance, you might be shipping an item with a sensitive outer finish, knowing that any little scrape will ruin the product. For this kind of situation, you can get foam-backed bubble wrap. This is essentially just bubble wrap on one side and foam padding on the other.
On the other hand, if you are looking for maximum convenience, we would recommend self-adhesive bubble wrap. Much like a roll of tape, this kind is backed with an adhesive that allows it to stick to itself. Using this, you can easily wrap any item with the surety that the packaging isn’t going anywhere. Thankfully, the adhesive doesn’t tend to be extremely strong, so it isn’t too hard to remove this stuff.
If you are wrapping an electronic item, you should probably get some anti-static bubble wrap. One of the only weaknesses of standard bubble wrap is its tendency to build up static electricity. Although this doesn’t pose any threat to human safety, it can still be strong enough to damage smartphones, tablets, computers, and many other electronic devices.
Some people are concerned about the environmental effects of plastic, and these concerns are not without merit. It does indeed take plastic a long time to break down, though it varies by type and thickness. Thus, you might choose to go with some eco-friendly bubble wrap. This variant is made from recycled plastic, and will normally be oxo-degradable, meaning that it will break down quickly in the open air.
As a final note, we should mention the padded mailers that are so common these days. For online commerce, large envelopes padded with bubble wrap have become the industry standard. When you need to ship something safely without spending too much on shipping, a padded mailer like this is one of the best options.
How To Use Bubble Wrap
Bubble wrap is very easy to use, which is one of its strengths. As for how you use it, that will depend on the results that you want to achieve. For most items, you would simply wrap the item in a manner similar to a Christmas present. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be anywhere near that elaborate, but you get the idea.
A lot of people get confused about which side of the bubble wrap they should use when wrapping items. Regardless of what type you are using, you should always place the bubbled side against the item or items to be protected. So, always make sure that the flat side is on the outside of the package.
We all know how much fun it is to pop those little bubbles, but there is one important thing to remember when doing that: Once those bubbles are popped, they can no longer do their job. Much like a deflated air mattress, they will provide no significant padding. Thus, you need to make sure those bubbles aren’t popped while in transit.
The easiest way to do this is to take your sheet of bubble wrap and lay it on a flat surface like a table. The bubbled side should be facing up, with the flat side lying against the surface. Now, place your item in the middle of the sheet and roll both sides to the middle. A little piece of tape secures the roll in place, and you’re ready to place it into a box for shipping.
Pros and Cons of Bubble Wrap
As everything in the world has its pros and cons, bubble wrap is no exception. Let’s start with the positives, the biggest of which is low cost. Without the exceptional affordability of this product, it would never have become so popular. It offers a very cheap solution for those who need to keep their costs down.
Aside from its low price, bubble wrap is plentiful and easy to find. There is not likely to be a shortage of this stuff, as so much of it is manufactured. Any company or store that sells packaging supplies should at least have the standard type of bubble wrap in stock.
There is no need to mention how good a job bubble wrap does at protecting items from impact and breakage. Indeed, this is the primary purpose of this invention, even if it was originally meant to be stuck on a wall. Sure, you could use some other kind of padding, but most others are not as effective. Those little bubbles provide a series of shock absorbers, taking the abuse so that your item remains intact.
Bubble wrap also has the advantage of being versatile. You would have a hard time finding a product that cannot be packaged in this way, though there are exceptions. For instance, particularly large items might be a little too expensive to bubble-wrap, especially if they are not all that fragile in the first place.
One of the problems with bubble wrap is the fact that it shouldn’t be re-used. While you can re-use it to a certain extent, this is only possible if the bubbles remain intact. A few popped bubbles aren’t really a big deal, but any more than that, and the piece should be thrown away.
Like all plastics, bubble wrap is not all that eco-friendly. There are not enough people that try to recycle this stuff, as most will just throw it in the trash without a second thought. Even after the plastic breaks down, its micro-particles can take many years to return to the earth fully. Of course, old bubble wrap can also be re-used as an insulating material.
Is Bubble Wrap Recyclable?
On the subject of environmental viability, it is worth asking if this material can be recycled. In many cases, plastic films like this one are not accepted for curbside recycling, for the same reasons that they often won’t accept plastic grocery bags. These thin plastic films have a tendency to get caught in the recycling equipment and jam up the works.
In some cases, this has led to some devastating and highly expensive accidents. However, the good news is that you can recycle bubble wrap at any collection center that accepts plastic bags. Many large businesses (like grocery stores) will have plastic bag collection bins outside their establishments, and you can dispose of bubble wrap at any of these places.
Unfortunately, this creates a convenience issue for many people. There is only a small percentage of the population that actually cares enough to take this stuff to a recycling center. Because it requires a little bit of extra effort to recycle, it is a fact that bubble wrap is more likely to end up in a landfill. That’s why we encourage you to re-use your bubble wrap as much as possible.
Where To Buy Bubble Wrap
There are many places to buy bubble wrap, but not all of them offer the same options. Many retail outlets will only sell the standard version, leaving those with more specialized needs in the cold. That’s why you should contact Mid-Atlantic Packaging for all your bubble wrap needs. You could go somewhere else, but we can guarantee you a higher level of quality than the rest.
With enough bubble wrap, even the most fragile item can be shipped to a distant corner of the world. When those two scientists invented this stuff, they never could have imagined how important their invention would be for the packaging industry. We hope that we have given you all the information you need and that we have answered any questions you might have had. If not, please fill out the contact form below for more information.