As a habitual Bubble Wrap popper, I have mixed feelings about this new product. Bubble Wrap IB from Sealed Air Corp. is billed as “unpoppable”—definitely a benefit in the world of protective packaging, especially for the rough-and-tumble small-parcel environment of ecommerce shipping.
How is this bubble cushioning different from before? What makes it unpoppable?
“It is a proprietary formulation that takes the best of our traditional Bubble Wrap…our Barrier Bubble technology,” explains Kim Gillis, strategic innovator at Sealed Air Corp. and head of Bubble Wrap IB. “But it's much more than just the film. It's the combination of film formulation, moving to specially designed air channels versus individual bubbles and our patented inflation technology—all three work in harmony to provide superior cushioning protection.”
The special air channels transfer impact and shock away from products to be protected and deliver 30% more protection power compared to competitive bubble technologies, according to “extensive testing” by Sealed Air.
The channels are filled on-demand from flat, uninflated roll-film with the NewAir I.B. Express inflatable cushioning system. With the easy-to-use system, packing operations can create cushioning on-demand as needed.
Shipping flat film in rolls reduces storage space needed significantly versus inflated bubble cushioning. It saves shipping space and costs, too—one truckload of uninflated Bubble Wrap IB is equal to 36 truckloads of standard bubble cushioning. Material is supplied in two widths, 12 and 24 inches, in rolls of 3,700 feet flat (which becomes 3,034 feet inflated).
Rolls ship flat and are inflated on demand, saving considerable space in warehouses and on incoming trucks.
With Bubble Wrap IB’s large bubbles (bubble height is a half inch), pack operations can spend less time wrapping because products need fewer layers of cushioning to be adequately protected. This also helps operators create more “right-sized” packages, and faster than previously possible, too.
Does being unpoppable encourage reuse? This might be an important environmental benefit, as well as a great selling point, especially for ecommerce because of easier consumer returns.
Regarding reusability, Gillis says, “Bubble Wrap IB utilizes our patented material with Barrier Bubble technology which extends the life of each bubble so that they can last through longer ship cycles and spend more time stored in a warehouse before use without compromising protective performance.”
Gillis continues, “For e-commerce consumers—which is basically everyone these days!—this means that the Bubble Wrap IB that comes in your box protecting what you ordered can also be reused for a safe return journey. It is easy and reliable for consumers—and it's what they want. We know from our own research that 94% of consumers prefer to reuse the original packaging when they have to do a return. With Bubble Wrap IB, they'll get same protection from damage for a product going back as it did on the way there. A great example of providing more product assurance with less material."
Guess I'll have to get my stress relief some other way instead of popping bubbles!