Key Features and Benefits of Air Pillow Packaging

Key Features and Benefits of Air Pillow Packaging
Published On:October 4, 2021 Revised On:September 15, 2023

Air pillow packaging, often referred to as air cushions or airbags, leverages the power of air, lightweight materials, and innovative design to benefit businesses across various industries. This article will explore the fundamental aspects of air pillow packaging, including what it is, how it works, and why it is such an effective void-fill packaging solution.

What is Air Pillow Packaging?

Air pillows are inflatable bags that are filled with air and sealed. Similar to packing peanuts, the void fill solution is used to cushion and fill gaps inside packages to protect products from harm and keep them from shifting, crushing, or breaking during delivery, shipping, or handling.

Air pillow packaging comprises inflatable cushions or bags made from flexible materials such as polyethene or polyurethane. These cushions are designed to be inserted into shipping boxes or envelopes to provide cushioning and protection for products during transit.

When properly inflated, they create a protective barrier around the items, preventing damage from shocks, impacts, and vibrations that can occur during shipping and handling. Air pillows are easy to use, take up less warehouse storage space, and have eco-friendly biodegradable options. 

Key Features and Benefits

Uninflated air pillows are filled and sealed using specialized air cushion packaging systems capable of inflating at a rate of 20 meters per minute. They can be used for a wide range of shipping needs and a wide range of items and goods. Whether for a small e-commerce business or a large-scale manufacturer, air pillow packaging offers a range of benefits that can improve packaging and shipping operations.

  • Lightweight and Space-Saving: Air pillows are exceptionally lightweight. The flat, deflated cushions take up minimal space when stored, reducing warehousing and storage costs. The lightweight design also contributes to lower shipping costs, as it reduces the overall weight of the package.
  • Customizable Sizing and Shape: One of the features is its adaptability to various product sizes and shapes. Unlike rigid packaging solutions, air pillows can be inflated to the precise amount needed to fill the voids and protect the product effectively. This customization ensures a snug fit and minimizes movement during shipping, reducing the risk of damage.
  • Protective Cushioning: Air pillows provide cushioning and protection for fragile or delicate items. When properly inflated and strategically placed within a package, they create a cushioned barrier that absorbs shocks, vibrations, and impacts. This protective cushioning is especially valuable for items prone to breakage or damage during transit, such as electronics, glassware, and ceramics.
  • Ease of Use and Cost-Efficiency: Inflating the cushions is a straightforward process. The system’s simplicity means businesses can quickly integrate air pillow packaging into their shipping processes, potentially reducing labour costs.
  • Reduction in Shipping Costs: Its lightweight nature reduces the overall weight of packages, leading to lower shipping fees. Additionally, the space-saving design of deflated cushions minimizes storage requirements, optimizing warehouse space and potentially reducing storage costs. These cost efficiencies make air pillow packaging an attractive choice for businesses seeking to reduce shipping expenses.
  • Improved Product Protection During Shipping: The inflatable cushions create a cushioned barrier around items, effectively absorbing shocks and preventing damage from impacts and vibrations. This level of protection is especially crucial for fragile or delicate items, reducing the likelihood of returns, refunds, or customer dissatisfaction due to damaged goods.

What Products Can Be Cushioned with Air Pillows?

Air pillows can be used in various shipping applications due to their versatility. They are ideal for small and lightweight products made of a variety of materials.

Due to their non-abrasive nature, air pillows are also suitable for fragile materials such as glass and ceramic and are best suited for cushioning and filling package voids. This packaging is generally thin and only filled with air, making them vulnerable to being “popped”. As a result, they are unsuitable for items with sharp edges or significant weight. 

How to Use Air Pillow Packaging

The plastic packaging starts with flat, deflated cushions that are stored compactly, taking up minimal space in a warehouse or packaging area. These flat cushions are quickly inflated using specialized equipment, such as an air pillow machine.

The cushions are placed strategically within a package to surround and cradle the product. The result is a customized and protective cushioning system that conforms to the shape and size of the shipped items. Air pillow packaging is an efficient and versatile solution for protecting products during shipping. Here are the key steps for using air pillow packaging effectively:

Steps for Inflating Air Pillows

Inflating air pillows is a crucial step in using this packaging method. Most air pillow systems require a dedicated machine for inflation. Follow these steps for inflating air pillows:

  1. Set up the inflation machine: Ensure the air pillow machine is correctly set up and connected to a power source and air supply (usually compressed air).
  2. Load the air pillow film: Insert the roll into the machine, ensuring it’s properly secured and aligned.
  3. Adjust settings: Depending on packaging needs, adjust the settings on the machine to control the inflation level, pillow size, and perforation if needed.
  4. Start the machine: Begin the inflation process, and the machine will automatically produce air pillows at the specified settings.
  5. Collect the inflated pillows: As the pillows are produced, collect them and prepare them for placement within the packages.

Proper Placement Inside Packaging

Once with a supply of inflated air pillows, it’s essential to place them correctly within the packaging to maximize protection. Consider these placement tips:

  1. Create a cushioning layer: Start by placing a layer of air pillows at the bottom of the package. This layer acts as a cushion to absorb shocks and impacts.
  2. Surround the product: Carefully position the product in the centre of the package, ensuring it is surrounded on all sides by inflated air pillows.
  3. Fill voids and gaps: Use additional air pillows to fill empty spaces or voids within the package. This prevents the product from shifting during transit.
  4. Top it off: Finally, add a layer of air pillows on top of the product to create a protective barrier between the product and the package’s lid or cover.
  5. Seal the package: Close and seal the package securely, ensuring the air pillows snugly surround the product.

Tips for Maximizing Protection

To ensure maximum protection for products when using air pillow packaging, consider the following tips:

  • Properly inflate air pillows: Ensure they are adequately inflated, but avoid overinflating them, as this can lead to bursting.
  • Choose the right pillow size: Use air pillows that are appropriately sized for the product and packaging. An ideal fit prevents shifting and provides better protection.
  • Consider product fragility: If shipping fragile items, consider adding an extra layer of air pillows or reinforcing areas where the product is most vulnerable.
  • d. Label fragile items: Clearly mark packages containing fragile items to alert handlers and couriers to exercise caution during transit.
  • e. Quality control: Regularly inspect the air pillow machine and film to ensure they are functioning correctly to avoid any disruptions in the packaging process.


Air pillow packaging offers a host of benefits that address key challenges in the packaging and shipping process. It protects products effectively, helps businesses save on shipping costs, reduces their environmental footprint, and improves customer satisfaction.

The packaging solution is highly versatile and finds applications across various industries. It can be tailored to suit the specific needs of various products and industries, including e-commerce, electronics, food, pharmaceuticals, and more.

Its ability to adapt to different product shapes and sizes makes it a valuable packaging solution for businesses of all types and sizes. Stream Peak offers an extensive selection of air pillows in various sizes and specs, including eco-friendly options. Contact us for a demo with our packaging engineers – no obligations!