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Bubble Wrap® FAQ
- Do I have to use Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning to make my invention?
We recommend you use Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning to create your invention for several reasons. Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning was the first air cellular cushioning to be invented, and this brand offers many advantages over alternative products.
All air cellular packaging material is made from polyethylene; however, polyethylene alone allows some of the air to escape over time or under a weight load. That's why Sealed Air’s Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning incorporates an extra layer of barrier material that is 100 times more resistant to the passage of air than even a thick single layer of polyethylene. The picture below demonstrates how this works:
Sealed Air’s Barrier Bubble® technology also provides superior cushioning and longer lasting protection as well as many environmental benefits such as source reduction (using less material), damage reduction, reusability and recycle-ability.
Also, please keep in mind that while you are allowed to use brands other than Sealed Air’s Bubble Wrap® cushioning , if your invention makes it to the semi-finals, we may ask you to rebuild the invention with Bubble Wrap® brand. This will occur if the integrity of the invention is altered by the type of cushioning used. You can be assured that the product you are using is Sealed Air’s Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning by looking for use of the Bubble Wrap® brand on the packaging.
- Where can I find Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning?
- What sizes and colors of Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning may I use to make my invention?
You can use a variety of sizes of Bubble Wrap® cushioning to make your invention. In order to make the competition fair to all contestants, young inventors should stick to clear Bubble Wrap® cushioning only. If you wish to use color, we suggest dyeing or painting your invention in order to make it as personal and creative as possible.
- May I receive help and input from my friends, family and teachers?
No great inventor works alone. While the main concept and the bulk of the work associated with dreaming up and putting together your invention should be your own, we understand that bouncing ideas off of parents, friends and teachers is normal and often necessary. We just ask that you let us know who worked with you throughout the process and that you make sure to let your own ideas shine through.
- Who invented Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning?
Bubble Wrap® cushioning, just like the great inventions that you will bring to this competition, was the brainchild of two ambitious inventors working in their garage. The story begins in Hawthorne, NJ with two engineers, Marc Chavannes and Al Fielding. Marc and Al were trying to make plastic wallpaper with a paper backing. Surprisingly, this product didn't take off. They quickly realized, however, that their invention could be used as a cushioning material for packaging. At that time, only abrasive paper products were used for packaging, which did not suffice for cushioning heavy or delicate items. They founded Sealed Air Corporation in 1960; and today, Sealed Air is a leading global manufacturer of a wide range of food and protective packaging materials and systems.
- How is Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning made?
Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning starts as polyethylene (plastic) resin, in the form of beads about the size of small peas. The beads go into an extruder - a long cylinder with a screw inside that runs its entire length. As the screw is turned, heat builds up and the resin melts into a liquid that is squeezed out of the cylinder into two stacked sheets of clear plastic film. One layer of the film is wrapped around a drum with holes punched in it, and suction is applied drawing one web of film into the holes that form the bubbles. The second layer of film is then laminated over the first so that when the two films are joined, they stick together and trap the air in the bubbles.
This may sound easy, but polyethylene is a porous material like a sponge. Air can easily leak out through the pores, which tends to limit the cushioning ability of the packaging. Realizing this, Sealed Air started using a barrier coating to seal the air in the bubbles. Eventually, a method of encapsulating an air retention barrier in the polyethylene during the extrusion process was developed. This process is a trade secret of Sealed Air Corporation.