Bubble Wrap vs Air Pillow Packaging
Published On:December 2, 2020 Revised On:March 25, 2023

Bubble Wrap vs Air Pillow Packaging

Void-fill packaging solutions are available in the market for providing protective product packaging. Several factors must be considered during the decision process, such as the size, weight, and fragility of the item that needs packing, shipment mode, etc. This article will share more about bubble wrap and air pillow packaging and how they can help with different packaging requirements.

Bubble Wrapping

Bubble Wrapping, also known as bubble cushioning, is a popular and economical packaging solution that cushion products from impact. As protective packaging, bubble cushioning is an excellent option for both cost and durability. The packaging is made of polyethene plastic bubbles encased in bubble wrap. Fragile products can be protected from scratching, breaking, or denting during shipping when using this form of cushioning.

The air between each bubble is a cushion to absorb shocks and prevent movement, reducing the overall risk of damage. Bubble cushioning also works excellently for irregularly shaped products since it allows the product to fit snugly within the wrapping material.

Suitable for use to protect small delicate components and heavy, bulky products. For example, use bubble wrap with ½ inch bubble sizes to protect larger objects, such as a flat-screen TV and pack a smaller component or a product, such as a wristwatch with a bubble size of 3/16 inches. Find out more here on how to use bubble wrap.

Anti-Static Bubble Wrap

Anti-Static bubble wraps are also available for packaging or electrical products prone to damage due to static charges. Anti-static bubble wrap reduces the costs of repairs and refunds by rectifying the chances of static discharge-related faults in a product. Always ensure that the anti-static bubble wrap meets industry standards that are PPP-C-795C Class 2 and features the “ESD” emblem.

Bubble Blanket

Bubble blankets protect fragile products against damage caused by impact, allowing companies to build customers’ trust by safely and intact delivering the product or item. Bubble wrap rolls commonly come in 3 widths, i.e., 12, 24, and 48 inches. Always ensure that all air cells are inflated before packaging, or the product will be exposed to potential damage.

Benefits of Bubble Wrap Packaging

Here are some main benefits of using bubble wrap as a packaging solution.

  • Versatility – Flexible solution to cover objects of any shape and size
  • User-Friendly – It is effortless and does not require additional packaging material. All that is needed is an OPP tape to secure the wrap.
  • Reduces Expenses –It is a cost-effective packaging solution due to its lightweight.
  • It is an ideal solution to protect expensive materials from damage.
  • Good insulation properties
  • Eco-friendly, re-usable

Air Pillow Wrapping

Air pillow packaging is a lightweight air-filled alternative packaging solution to bubble wrap. Unlike bubble wrap, the packaging is not for wrapping and cushioning fragile products as it focuses more on blocking and bracing products during transportation.

Void-fill pillows provide excellent protection when sending delicate products through couriers or postal services when bubble cushioning does not provide enough padding. Air pillow packaging works similarly to bubble cushioning with the added benefit of instantly moulding into place when inflated, providing excellent coverage and extra support for firmly packed items inside the box, such as minute pieces of jewellery or delicate glassware. While air pillows are often more expensive than bubble cushion packaging, their increased strength and added protection for fragile items make them an ideal choice for those looking for protection without compromising quality or price.

Air pillows are produced with a compact, efficient, reliable, and user-friendly machine that can be easily integrated into existing packaging facilities. Secure items in place and prevent them from shifting within or hitting the sides of the box during shipment or handling.

Benefits of Air Pillows

Apart from protecting the product, the void filler has several other benefits, which include:

  • Cost-Effectiveness –this packaging is exceptionally lightweight and adds no additional weight to the overall shipment, saving freight charges and shipping costs.
  • Less Inventory space is needed – Fill void fill pillows on demand, store them in a smaller area, and inflate them by the required quantity.
  • Customisation –Supplied in various sizes without needing total inflation. Therefore, customising is possible to meet different product types, weights, and sizes. Moreover, save money on additional packing materials as these pillows reduce the need for extra protection.
  • Easy to Use –each void fill roll has a perforation between each airbag, allowing users to easily tear the string of air Pillows between the void fillings. This helps reduce material waste making the packaging process efficient and less expensive.
  • Eco-Friendliness – Efficiently disposable and made from recyclable material. According to Dr Susan Selke at Michigan State’s School of Packaging, high-volume shippers prefer packaging void-fill pillows because it requires less plastic and more air. Moreover, it reduces the carbon footprint in transportation, energy use, and other plastic-related environmental concerns.

Which Is the Better Value: Bubble Wrap or Air Pillows?

Bubble wrap is an affordable and effective way to protect pre-packed items. Its lightweight design allows for easy storage and transport, making it an excellent choice for businesses looking for a cost-effective solution. When using bubble wrap, items will remain secure due to the air-filled bubbles in each material layer. Often, bubble wrap is used when shipping fragile items to ensure items won’t be damaged during transit.

Air pillows are ideal for void-fill applications, such as when packing large boxes without individual product protection being necessary. Although more costly than bubble wrap, void-fill pillows occupy less space during transportation and are quick and easy to install. Air pillow systems come in different sizes, making them great for shipping irregularly shaped items and larger packages where the bulk filler is optional.

How do Bubble Wrap and Air Pillows Compare in Productivity?

Air pillows have a significant advantage over bubble wrap regarding productivity when filling large voids. The void-fill machines can rapidly create air pillows in seconds, making them ideal for high-volume packaging operations that need fast, cost-effective cushioning. Users only need to tear off the required number of pillows, place them in the package and close it for an adequate void fill. On the other hand, bubble wrap requires more manual work as it needs to be wrapped around delicate items manually.

For small voids and lightweight product area items, bubble wrap is still beneficial due to its ability to provide uniform cushioning across all areas of the product. The packaging also creates a neat appearance within the box and is easy to cut into smaller pieces if needed. However, in most situations where production efforts are necessary for cost-efficiency, air pillows have an advantage with the simplicity and fast manufacturing process.

When Would Bubble Wrap or Air Pillows not be Cost-effective or Advisable?

Bubble wrap and void-fill pillows are excellent packaging materials, offering both cushioning and protective packaging solutions. When shipping small or fragile items, bubble wrap may not be suitable due to its large size, as it can be too bulky for the item being shipped. Furthermore, if the operation ships a wide range of small items simultaneously, then bubble wrap is not cost-effective since there will be considerable waste when cutting the wrap down to size for each item.

In such cases, it is better to opt for poly mailers or bubble mailers as they offer far more protection and are much more economical. Poly bags with bubble linings can provide superior protection against dirt and dust while providing the necessary cushioning and support that smaller items need in transit. Bubble mailers also offer protection while allowing small items to be fitted in easily.

Choosing the Right Packaging Material

An informed and comprehensive void-fill packaging solution is critical to any successful shipping operation, and selecting the most suitable one based on your requirements takes work. Do you need a more sustainable option in the form of air pillow machines? Or are you looking for an upgrade to your bubble wrap stockpiles so you can get through the next migration season quickly? Our packaging engineers are always ready to help companies explore their options and weigh the pros and cons.