Chances are you’ve gotten your hands on a piece of bubble wrap at some point in your life and have been unable to resist the urge pop a few bubbles. Whether you’ve received a parcel or just got a new lamp home from the store, there’s a strong possibility that there was some plastic cushioning material inside that was just begging to be popped. But where did this stuff first come from?
The answer, as with so many great inventions, is a little unexpected.
The invention that we now call bubble wrap was the brain child of two inventors who were originally trying to create a 3-dimensional wallpaper, although why remains unclear. Whatever the reason, the material they came up with proved to be inappropriate for interior decorating, but excellent for cushioning delicate items. Three years later in 1960 they founded the company that was to introduce bubble wrap to the world.
These days there are any number of variations of this material, with bubbles ranging in size from 6mm to 26mm providing varying levels of shock absorption. Bubble wrap as a packing material came to be vital as we moved into the age of electronics. Certain types of plastics can be used to dissipate the build-up of static charge, making it easier and safer to transport electronic components.
Bubble wrap has thus become a vital part of the cheap parcel delivery services many of us enjoy today.
Of course, the usefulness of bubble wrap only goes so far. Were it not for its undoubted qualities as a source of entertainment and stress relief, it is unlikely that there would be a Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (the last Monday in January, pencil it in now).
When you can’t get your hands on some of this amazing stuff when you most need it, there’s no need to despair. A quick search online should point you at Virtual Bubble Wrap — one click of the mouse, one satisfying pop. However, many would argue that the pleasure is not quite the same….
Whether you need to let off some steam, protect a delicate item during transport, or just like popping little pockets of air, be thankful that two men in 1957 failed to create 3-dimensional plastic wallpaper.