How to Use Bubble Wrap?

How to Use Bubble Wrap?
Published On:March 15, 2023 Revised On:December 28, 2023

Bubble wrap inflatable cushioning is a packaging solution made of air-filled bubbles that protect products from damage during transportation. Electronics can be insulated and cushioned with this void-fill packaging solution. This article will share more about bubble wrap and how to use it.

Understanding Bubble Wrap

In 1957, two engineers from Hawthorne, New Jersey – Marc Chavannes and Alfred Fielding – invented bubble wrap. Their initial idea was to make three-dimensional wallpaper but ended up with plastic sheeting that featured regularly spaced raised bubbles.

The pair then took their invention to IBM, the only manufacturer interested in using bubble wrap to package fragile computer components for air freight. 1959, the order was placed, and the packaging supply industry changed. Today, bubble wrap provides ultra-lightweight void fill cushioning from impacts, shock, and vibration. The packaging is used worldwide to transport all sorts of products – from a single iPhone to industrial equipment sent in sea cargo containers.

Benefits of Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is a flexible plastic packaging that contains individual air bubbles, providing cushioning and shock absorption. The void filler protects fragile items and surfaces from scratches or dents during shipping. Bubble wrap is lightweight, low-cost and easy to use since it fits the shape of the item.

It can be stored easily because it comes in large rolls which can be cut to any size. Bubble wrap is non-abrasive, making it a good insulator and cushioning material. The packaging material offers many advantages over other insulation materials. Here are some benefits of bubble wrap pillows:

  • Non-abrasive
  • Absorbs shock
  • Provides extra protection
  • Light yet strong
  • Prevents dust and water vapour from entering
  • Low bulk density
  • Highly durable
  • Can withstand extreme temperatures of -50°F (-45°C) to 300°F (149°C)

Bubble Wrap Applications

The packaging material is widely recognised and versatile in various sectors due to its unique cushioning properties.  The adaptability of bubble wrap ensures it remains a staple not just in the shipping and packaging industry but also finds relevance in everyday life scenarios. Here’s an exploration of its diverse applications:

  1. Packaging and Shipping: The primary use of bubble wrap is to protect items during transportation. Whether it’s delicate ceramics, electronics, or books, bubble wrap safeguards them from shocks and impacts.
  2. Glass and Fragile Item Protection: Items like glassware, porcelain, and other delicate items are especially prone to breakage. Wrapping them in bubble wrap adds a layer of protection, ensuring they remain intact even when subjected to rough handling.
  3. Electronics: Static electricity can damage electronic components. Anti-static bubble wrap is designed to protect sensitive electronic products by preventing the build-up of static electricity.
  4. Insulation: Bubble wrap can act as a temporary insulator. Some people place it on windows to keep out cold during winter, thanks to the insulating air-filled bubbles.
  5. Greenhouses: In gardening, bubble wrap can be used in greenhouses to retain heat. The bubbles trap warmth, creating a favourable environment for plant growth during colder seasons.
  6. Void Filling: In shipping boxes, empty spaces can cause items to shift and break. Bubble wrap can fill these voids, ensuring products remain stationary and secure.
  7. Noise Reduction: While not its primary purpose, bubble wrap can be a temporary sound insulator. Layers of it can help dampen noise in certain scenarios.
  8. Temporary Cushioning: Bubble wrap can be used as temporary padding for seats, beds, or any surface requiring extra cushioning.

Different Types of Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap pillows come in two types: single-cell and multi-cell. Single-cell has one layer of bubble film with bigger bubbles, while multi-cell has multiple layers of bubble film with smaller bubbles. Bubble wrap also comes in different sizes.

Use bigger bubbles for heavier items like TVs and furniture and smaller bubbles for fragile objects like vases and glass. Use bubble wrap envelopes to mail smaller products that are lightweight and semi-fragile. Each type has advantages and disadvantages to meeting different packaging requirements.

Small Bubble Wrap: They come in tiny bubbles ranging from 3/8 to 5/8 inch and are soft and strong enough to protect fragile products such as electronics and ceramics from impact, moisture, dust and dirt. Small bubble wrap is a better choice when shipping multiple-sized items together. The bubbles fill empty voids inside boxes or cartons and secure products.

Large Bubble Wrap: Similar to inflatable air pillows, large bubble wrap is used for larger, heavier items, giving extra cushion and protection. The packaging works well with wrapping paper and other packing materials. The large bubbles provide more air, insulate against temperature changes and protect items with sharp edges or corners.

Anti-static Bubble Wrap: This unique bubble wrap packages and ships sensitive electric components, such as computer circuit boards and antique ceramic plates. Regular bubble wrap helps protect items from shock, but anti-static bubble wrap prevents electric shocks from static electricity. The anti-static void filler can reduce the probability of fire and electric shocks in warehouses and storage facilities.

An anti-static material on both sides encases the bubbles: one black side outside and one pink side inside. This material helps conduct electric charges away from glass, plastic, metal, hardware objects and dust particles. Anti-static bubble wrap has similar properties to regular foam packaging (resilience against physical shock), making it great for protecting fragile items during transport. Some anti-static bubble wraps also contain antimicrobial agents to reduce the risk of contamination during shipment.

How to Use Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap packaging protects fragile items such as delicate artwork and fragile electronics. Below, we will be sharing more on effective ways to use bubble wrap packaging for protection against impact during storage or transportation.

  1. Start with a strip twice as wide as the item that needs wrapping. Wrap over the item once or twice.
  2. Cut the piece off the roll and add another layer to cover all sides if needed. Cover delicate edges with extra pieces if necessary and secure with gummed paper tapes or staples.
  3. For delicate items, use two layers of wrapping and additional taping. This will keep heavy supplies together securely before transport or storage in a box.
  4. When packing plates and other dishes, use folded bubble wrap between each one. Secure tightly with tape so they don’t move during transport or storage.
  5. For glass vases and other fragile items, use extra care on the edges, which are weaker than other parts.

Tips for Using Bubble Wrap

The void-fill packaging provides cushioning and protects items from impacts and scratches. Ensure the item is well covered using large bubble wrap, preventing dust from entering the packaging.

Use OPP packing tape or strapping bands to secure the item during transit. Avoid packing too tightly to prevent a lack of air circulation, creating a warm environment that may cause condensation build-up and damage over time. Use bubble wrap machines to help with productivity and storage space for high-demand industrial requirements. Here are some tips on how to use it effectively.

  • Wrap items tightly and securely
  • Use multiple layers for extra protection
  • Make sure all air bubbles are pressed out
  • Use plenty of Opp tape to secure the wrap
  • Fill any empty spaces with packing material
  • Label all boxes that contain fragile items

Disposing of Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is useful for protecting fragile items, and below are some good practices for disposing of bubble wrap.

Recycling Bubble Wrap: When it comes to recycling plastic, it’s essential to understand the different types of plastics. Bubble wrap is a #4 Low-density polyethene (LDPE) and can be recycled with other soft plastic films if it’s clean and free from dirt and food residue. An authorised recycling program or provider usually accepts bubble wrap recycling. Check the local guidelines or visit the nearest mall with a plastic bag recycling bin.

Donating Bubble Wrap: People are becoming more conscious of sustainable packaging trends and are starting to upcycle. Donating bubble wrap is an alternative way to dispose of the packaging and help reduce waste to make a difference in sustainability.

  • Post it on upcycling and material exchange sites, e.g. Freesharing and ReuseItNetwork.
  • Offer it to family or friends who need it for moving.
  • Donate it to charities or organisations which may find it helpful in packaging or community art projects.
  • Contact schools, churches, libraries and community groups who may use it for projects.

Reusing Bubble Wrap: Bubble wrap is useful for storage and shipping, and plastic packaging can be reused multiple times to reduce environmental waste. Handle reusable bubble wrap carefully and check for any signs of wear or damage before using.

  • Gently fold it, and don’t twist, bend, crease or stretch it too much.
  • Store used pieces separately from new ones.
  • Check the bubble before using it for air retention.
  • Use tape to repair gaps and extend its usability. Ensure a good bond between the sealant and the binding surface.
  • Wipe wraps with a clean cloth to remove dust, dirt and other particles that could damage the product.

At Stream Peak, we provide an extensive array of void-fill packaging solutions, encompassing both bubble wrap and air pillows for shipping. Our expertise extends to consulting on your packaging needs and enhancement strategies. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a no-obligation consultation, where our packaging engineers can visit your operations site to collaborate on optimal solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is bubble wrap used for?
Answer: Bubble wrap protects fragile items during shipping and storage.

Question: How do you use bubble wrap?
Answer: To use bubble wrap, place the item to be wrapped on top of a sheet of bubble wrap and then wrap a second sheet around the object. Secure the bubble wrap in place with tape or string.

Question: How do you dispose of bubble wrap?
Answer: Bubble wrap can be recycled at a plastic recycling centre. The packaging can also be reused by cutting it into smaller pieces and using it to fill gaps in boxes or cushion items when shipping.