Given Bubble Wrapâ€™s popularity among nervous fingers and kids at heart, itâ€™s easy to forget it was designed to protect packaged items. Post offices and shippers use it to package fragile items, and it provides protection while adding little weight to the package. Bubble Wrap consists of plastic sheeting with regularly-spaced air bladders.
In 1957, engineers Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes tried to create a textured wallpaper in a New Jersey garage, but their creation didnâ€™t work. After trying to find a use for their invention–including greenhouse insulation–Chavannes later said that on a flight he noticed how clouds seemed to cushion his airplane. The Sealed Air Corporation, founded by Fielding and Chavannes in 1960, holds the trademark for Bubble Wrap air cellular cushioning.
Bubble Wrap is manufactured in 52 countries, and each year enough of the material is made to stretch to the moon and back. The company reported revenue of $4.2 billion in 2009, but while it also makes food packaging and medical supplies, Bubble Wrap is its flagship product.
Bubble Wrap comes in several sizes, and it makes a difference how big the bubble is. Larger bubbles make for a softer wrap, and smaller bubbles are more secure–theyâ€™re harder to break. One layer of Bubble Wrap will protect your goods, but more layers are recommended. For electronic goods, the company makes an anti-static Bubble Wrap. For packing, it is recommended that the bubbles be on the inside.
While Bubble Wrap is designed as a packing material, itâ€™s probably better known and loved as a stress reliever–something that layers of newspaper or foam packing â€œpeanutsâ€ could never accomplish.. Thereâ€™s something about popping those air bladders that appeals to office workers and other users.