We all get tempted by those tiny air-filled bubbles we deeply enjoy bursting. They not only, help us feel child-like joy but also, prove to be quite helpful while protecting fragile goods from damage. Interestingly, bubble wrap wallpaper and bubble wrap art are hugely liked by many. Read some amazing facts about bubble wrap below.
1. Original Invention
Two American Engineers Alfred Fielding & Marc Chavannes came up with the idea to invent a 3D plastic wallpaper in 1957. They sealed two shower curtains together in such a way that they could capture air bubbles. They did so to give their wallpaper a textured look. But their idea of making it into wallpaper did not work the way they had envisioned it.
When the initial idea of making a wallpaper failed, the duo decided to try their product somewhere else. So, they used it for building greenhouse insulation and tried selling it for heating buildings and offices. However, the method was not very successful. (See Who Invented Super Glue?)
2. First Bubble Wrap Usage
Then three years later, Alfred and Marc founded their company Sealed Air in 1960 to further promote their bubble wrap. Marketing expert of the company, Frederick W. Bowers heard that 1401 decimal computers of IBM were ready to ship to their buyers. Taking the opportunity, he proposed the idea of wrapping the computers in their signature product, the bubble wrap. The company was so impressed by the result that they continued using the same to wrap delicate items while shipping.
3. Achievements of Sealed Air Corp
The tie-up with IBM proved useful for Sealed Air, and by the mid-1960s, the company became a shipping institution. They adopted Bubble Wrap as the trademark of the company so that no other organization could use the term bubble wrap. Moreover, the founders of Sealed Air Corporation earned a spot for their product in the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in 1993 along with inventors like Albert Einstein and Thomas Alva Edison. (Read 4 Most Important Inventions of the Industrial Revolution)
4. Different Types of Bubble Wrap
To provide maximum safety for shipped products, bubble-wrap are designed in different shapes and sizes & using different materials.
- The diameter of air bubbles was adjusted from 6 mm to 26mm to provide different levels of shock absorption for fragile items.
- They are produced with various materials – biodegradable plastic, LDPE or polyethylene film, plastic, and recycled plastic resins.
- Some bubble wraps even have vapor-filled bubbles for protecting metal and electronic items from corrosion during transit.
5. Uses of Bubble Wrap
The versatility of bubble wraps is because of the various materials used in the manufacturing process.
- Bubble wraps are good sleeping mats and can be used for camping.
- They can be used to cover windows and dog houses to provide insulation during cold weather.
- They can also be used in freezers to reduce the circulation of warm air and improve cooling.
- Bubble wraps are used in Norway as blankets for severely ill patients to protect them from hypothermia.
6. Bubble Wrap in Competitions
One of the interesting facts about bubble wrap is that its durability was tested in a pumpkin-dropping contest organized in Iowa. A pumpkin weighing 815 pounds (approximately 369.7 kg) was dropped from the height of 35 feet. And to everyone’s amazement, the pumpkin experienced no damage.
Later, in 2007, a Bubble Wrap Competition for Young Inventors was organized by Sealed Air Corp. Grade school students were encouraged to present different ideas of using bubble wrap. Students showed a variety of innovative projects in the competition which was conducted every year till 2010.
7. Bubble Wraps as Stress-Busters
Bubble popping is considered a way to handle stress. Several people consider it useful with anxiety, stress, and anger management issues. In 2019, sheets of bubble wraps were given to students for stress-busting and anxiety relief at the University of Bristol, England. One of the facts about bubble wrap is that it can be used as a source of amusement among kids as well as adults. (Also see What is the Peanut Gallery?)
8. Innovations Around Bubble Wrap
- Acknowledging the rising interest of people for bursting bubble wraps for fun, several popping toys started including infinite bubbles. Soon, virtual bubbles were launched. These toys provide the same sound and experience as traditional bubble wraps but with the added advantage that they don’t get inflated.
- Similarly, several mobile applications are also available that give us the joy of popping bubble wraps.
- Additionally, Sealed Air Corporation introduced a flat bubble wrap named iBubble Wraps in 2015. They are flat sheets of bubbles connected in strips. The customer can inflate them as and when required. However, these bubble wraps cannot be popped for fun.
9. Production of Bubble Wrap
How is bubble wrap produced and in what quantities? But, it is truly one of the most impressive facts about bubble wrap. The amount of bubble wrap produced every year on Earth in 52 countries would stretch from Earth to the Moon. Thus, the total length of bubble wrap produced every year can wrap our Earth at the equator more than 10 times. (See How Was UPS Founded?)
10. Recognition and Awards
- A 12 X 12 square piece of bubble wrap donated by the Company was displayed in the Architecture and Design Collection at the Museum of Modern Art in 2004.
- Moreover, bubble wrap was nominated to be included at the National Toy of Fame in 2016 by the Strong Museum in Rochester, New York.
- Another recognition was given to bubble wrap art when artist Bradley Hart, who works with modern art styles made colorful landscapes and portraits using bubble wraps.
- Also, in 2015, Colorado boy scouts made a Guinness World Record for popping the most bubble wraps together i.e. 2681.
These are some other interesting & commendable facts about bubble wrap.
11. The Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day
On the last Monday of January, Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day is observed. This started when the shipment of new microphones wrapped in bubble wraps arrived at the radio station in Bloomington, Indiana. The jockeys were so happy to receive their parcels that they played the sound of popping bubble wraps on the radio (See Why did Radioshack fail?)
So, we uncovered several unknown facts about bubble wrap, including bubble wrap wallpaper and bubble wrap art created by artist Bradley Hart.