The use of bubble wrap as a protective packaging material was first started by IBM in 1961 who used it to protect the IBM 1401 computer during shipment. Since then it is used in every industry for protective coverage and transportation of goods. Nevertheless, when it came to protecting items sensitive to temperature, bubble wrap did not provide a complete shield, which prompted companies to add an extra layer of reflective material on it – and that’s how bubble wrap insulation came about. This is a superior quality packaging material and in this article, you will find out why.
What Is Bubble Wrap Insulation And How Does It Work
Bubble wrap insulation, also known as reflective bubble insulation, air bubble foil, bubble foil insulation, silver foil bubble insulation, foil-faced bubble wrap, or metallised bubble wrap is a lightweight reflective insulating material that is ideal for insulating items that require temperature control. It has a wide range of usage such as domestic or commercial building insulation, maintenance of the temperature during the production of items, insulation during the transportation of medical products, insulative packaging for the transportation of food, and many more.
The bubble wrap insulation is a radiant barrier which functions on the principle of thermal insulation. Before you understand thermal insulation, you need to understand the types of heat.
- Conductive heat: The type of heat that travels from one part of an object to another through direct contact.
- Convective heat: The type of heat that is transferred from one place to another via the movement of fluids like liquid or gas.
- Radiant heat: The type of heat that is passed from one object to another with no direct contact. This kind of heat travels in the form of rays in straight lines and follows all the properties light does.
Thermal insulation is the process in which heat transfer between objects in thermal contact or in the range of radiative influence is reduced – so essentially, these block conductive and radiant heat. As a result, the temperature of the two surfaces separated by one or more layers of insulators differ – one is less and the other is more.
Using Bubble Wrap As A Radiant Barrier In Packaging
Air is an excellent thermal insulator. Bubble wrap contains air bubbles trapped in a flexible plastic sheet which is also an insulator. These air bubbles being separated, scatter the infrared radiation, which only enhances the insulation. The smaller these bubbles are, the better the insulation extent.
Now, in order to make the regular bubble wrap an even better radiant barrier for packaging, another layer of strong metalised aluminium polyester film or foil is laminated on to the bubble wrap. This creates a reflective surface that blocks up to 95% of radiant heat, by reflecting it as well as acting as a barrier between the heat and the packed item; dramatically improving thermal performance and energy efficiency.
Is Bubble Wrap Insulation A Good Idea For Packaging
As we can see, bubble wrap insulation is a supreme insulator and hence, it works wonders when used in packaging. Its thermal qualities provide insulation during storage and transport, providing damage prevention for temperature-sensitive goods. There are a number of reasons it is a brilliant choice for packaging:
Bubble Wrap Insulation Saves Products From Impacts:
When you transport items from one place to another, bumps on the road, accidents, and many other such events may occur which can harm the item being shipped. Not just this, but they can even be mishandled or simply fall while storing as well as placing them in the transit vehicle. This can damage the product, especially fragile products like electronics or glass items etc.
Bubble wrap packaging material’s air bubbles provide a durable and flexible cushioning and keep your item absolutely safe from impacts like these. When two or more layers of bubble wrap are used to cover corrugated boxes, it offers excellent protection even from severe impacts. As an extra layer of protection, when temperature-sensitive items like electronics, food, chemicals, etc. are carried through extreme hot or cold weather conditions, aluminium bubble wrap insulates it from the temperature change as well.
Aluminium Bubble Wrap Prevents Condensation:
If delicate items, especially the ones affected by temperature change, like food and dairy items, take more than a certain amount of time to reach the destination where it can be put back into the temperature required for their storage; the heat can make them generate vapour. As in the transit process, this vapour is trapped within the packaging material, it can cause mould. This can make the item rot before it even is used by the receiver. Bubble wrap insulation comes to the rescue in this situation.
As aluminium bubble wrap reflects the heat, it acts as a vapour barrier as well. This prevents condensation which is the reason behind the mould. However, it is important that the item is packed well and made air-tight in order to maintain the moisture barrier.
It Is Lightweight:
Bubble wrap consists of mostly air in the name of the structure, with a few layers of ultra-lightweight plastic for durability; which makes it one of the lightest packaging materials available. Even with the added layer of reflective material, it remains extremely light, making the items wrapped by it very easy to carry.
Bubble Wrap Insulation Is Flexible:
One of the best qualities of bubble wrap packaging material is that it is extremely flexible, which means it can cover items of absolutely any size and shape. To give it any desired shape, all you need is a pair of scissors.
It Is Reusable:
Unless there was a seriously damaging incident while shipping and the bubble wrap had to sacrifice itself in order to protect the item being shipped, it can be reused by the receiver for similar items as long as he/she unwraps the packaging carefully. In fact, when 80-90% of the bubbles in a sheet remain intact, it is a good candidate for reuse until the bubbles are all gone. Particularly, when there is an added layer of reflective material, it is highly unlikely that the bubbles would get impaired, so the packaging can be used indefinitely. Even though in this case the base material is plastic, this quality of recycling makes bubble wrap packaging materials one of the most environmentally friendly ones.
Bubble Wrap Is Cost-Effective:
Bubble wrap insulation packaging is highly cost-effective for a number of reasons:
- The cost of the material itself is meagre when compared to others.
- The material is flexible itself as mentioned earlier, which can wrap items of any size and shape. So you don’t have to buy a different packaging material for different products for shipping, which saves a ton of money.
- As stated before, bubble wrap insulation is extremely lightweight, which saves you a lot of cost in transit.
- If you transport items in bulk, you save a lot on shipping cost when you use lightweight packaging material like this.
- Less packaging also means lower costs when shipping by weight.
- You potentially even save on fuel costs when you transfer a large amount of goods wrapped in this.
- Since this packaging material is reusable, if any product is returned, this way you can wrap other products using the same material and thus save money on extra wrapper.
As you can see, bubble wrap packaging is one of the most sustainable ways to transfer an item that is vulnerable to heat. However, the quality of the packaging material matters the most in such a situation. Buy good quality packaging only from an authorised and reputed bubble wrap insulation dealer to enjoy maximum benefits of it.