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Bubble is plastic sheeting full of air-filled cells that wraps around and cushions objects during shipping.

Bubble: The Basics

Bubble is a form of packaging material that is sometimes considered part of the void fill category. Made from sheets of plastic studded with air-filled cells, it comes in a variety of sizes and forms, and is used to protect objects from damage during shipping and storage.

Bubble or Bubble Wrap®?

In 1957, inventors Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes tried to create a three-dimensional plastic wallpaper—It didn’t work out. However, they realized the end result could be used as packaging material. Fielding co-founded Sealed Air Corporation and Bubble Wrap® was born.

In the years since, it’s become what’s known as a generic trademark. That’s when a brand name enters the public lexicon, like how you might ask for Aspirin when you want headache medication.

Kleenex or tissue paper? Jell-O or gelatin? Jacuzzi or hot tub?

Bubble is the proper general term used when referring to plastic sheets covered with air-filled cells.

Bubble: How to Choose

Bubble can fill a variety of packaging needs. When choosing the right cushioning, take a look at what’s being packed inside the box (is it glassware, a Blu-ray player, a kettlebell?), the size of the box itself, and how the box will be transported and stored.

bubble sizes

If you’re shipping small and light-weight items, 3/16″ bubble is all the protection you’ll need. Larger and heavier items benefit from 5/16″ cushioning, and general void filling works best with1/2″ inch. If you don’t want your item to slide around, adhesive or cohesive versions will keep things from moving. And if you’re shipping an electronic item like a digital camera, anti-static bubble will keep static discharge from damaging it.

Whatever style you choose, make sure the air-filled cells are wrapped against your product for maximum cushioning.

Bubble: Types

Adhesive sticks directly to the object, preventing shifting and unrolling. Any residue left behind can be cleaned off later.

Anti-Static reduces friction and static discharge, protecting sensitive electronics like digital cameras and laptops. Colored pink for easy identification, it’s also used during breast cancer awareness month.

Bubble Paper is exactly as it sounds, bubble glued and pressed onto sheets of Kraft paper (also called Krubble) used for cushioning between items.

Bubble Pouches protect small items such as memory cards, nuts and bolts, and computer components. They’re available in self-sealing, heavy duty and anti-static options.

Cohesive has a coated surface that’s smooth to the touch and sticks only to other bubble cushioning.

Colored ups the look factor with shades like purple, blue, black and more.

Recycled comes in green colour and is usually made from up to 40% recycled material without compromising quality. Be environmentally-conscious while still protecting your products.

Regular bubble is clear, better known as ‘natural’, and is the kind you’ll encounter most. Use it for wrapping everyday objects, and pop it for some fun stress relief!

Bubble: Words Worth Knowing

Rolls are cut into specific lengths from large master bundles. For example, a 72” inch wide bundle is often cut down into 12”, 16”, 18” or 36” widths.

Creep is the amount of bubble thickness lost due to air loss and compression when under load. Most industry standards require that bubble lose no more than 10% of its original thickness.

Cushioning is bubble’s ability to help protect items from damage caused by shock and vibration.

Perforations are lines of small holes usually made every 12” on rolls and sheets. Think of kitchen paper towels, easy to tear off and use.

Self-Seal is an adhesive strip on a sheet or pouch. Peel off the protective liner and close the pouch up.


Don’t forget: keep the air-filled cells against your object. It’s the right way to wrap!