Bubble wrap

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Bubble wrap
Credit: University Products


Introduced in 1960 as a trademark of Sealed Air Corporation, Bubble Wrap was formed from a double layer of plastic film containing sealed bubbles, or air pockets, between the layers. The bubbles provide cushioning and are often used to provide some shock and vibration isolation The name is now a generic term; as such Bubble wrap is thought to be made from Polyethylene films, but some brands are composed of Polyvinylidene chloride or Polyvinyl chloride. The permeability of the film can result in deflation of the bubbles overtime. Some versions, such as Aircap@ [Sealed Air] and Polycap@ [Ipsind] have and additional layer of nylon that prolongs the lifetime of the bubble. Maximum cushioning is provided with the bubble side toward the object, however, direct contact with the film may leave marks and sharp edges may break bubbles. Some of the problems can be mitigated by placing two bubble layers face-to-face.

Package wrapped in Bubble wrap
Credit: PACCIN

Synonyms and Related Terms

Bubble Wrap@; Bubblewrap; bubble-wrap; Artifact bubble wrap; bubble pack; bubble paper; air fill; Air Cap; Polycap; Luftpolsterfolie (Deut.)


  • Packing and cushioning material with interleaving tissue
  • Short-term transport, such as in field kits

Personal Risks

[Safety Data Sheet]

Collection Risks

  • Not for use in long-term-storage
  • Bubbles may deflate over time
  • Poly(vinylidene chloride) and Poly(vinyl chloride) films may release hydrochloric acid
  • Tissue will not prevent the migration of acid.

Forms and Sizes

Bubble wrap is usually sold as rolls with widths up to 72” wide. Bubble sizes can range from 1/4” to 2“ diameter; typically 3/16”, 5/16” and ½”. Perforations optional (e.g. every 12”). Varieties are available such as antistatic, with surfaces that sticks to itself, or with flat films on both sides.

Additional Information

Bubble Wrap history: https://web.archive.org/web/20100923074021/http://www.bubblewrapturns50today.info/bubble_wrap_facts.pdf

Sealed Air products: http://www.sealedairprotects.com/eu/en/products/bubblewrap/bubble_wrap.aspx

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • AIC Wiki: A Collaborative Knowledge Resource: website
  • Preparation, Art Handling, Collections Care Information Network (PACCIN)
  • Marjorie Shelley, The Care and Handling of Art Objects, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1987
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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