Bubble Wrap Was Originally a Type of Wallpaper

Some inventions prove useful in unexpected ways. For instance, Marc Chavannes and Alfred Fielding weren’t trying to protect fragile objects when they created Bubble Wrap. The two men wanted to produce textured wallpaper that people could easily clean. This new product featured two layers of plastic with air bubbles between them. However, the idea didn’t appeal to many homeowners.

Chavannes and Fielding refused to give up. They realized that Bubble Wrap could insulate greenhouses without blocking too much sunlight. This material weighs very little, so it doesn’t overburden the frame. Although this concept made sense, few greenhouse owners wanted to experiment with plastic insulation. The inventors still needed to find a more appealing way to use their product.

Two years after this material came into existence, IBM introduced a new computer. The company needed to protect fragile components when it shipped the machines to customers. Fortunately, IBM officials recognized the benefits of Bubble Wrap and embraced it as a lightweight packaging material. Chavannes and Fielding established a company known as Sealed Air in 1960.

The firm eventually developed a variety of products, such as envelopes that safeguard their contents with Bubble Wrap. People in Asia and Europe gained access to these items during the 1970s, and the company became a major source of food packaging materials in subsequent decades. New technologies helped Bubble Wrap attract more commercial buyers. For example, some online retailers use it to protect CDs or cellphones.

Although this material didn’t originally achieve success as an insulation product, numerous people currently use it for that purpose. It’s easy to find internet tutorials about insulating greenhouses, windows and even water pipes with Bubble Wrap. On the other hand, there still doesn’t seem to be anyone who wants to use it as wallpaper.

Source: https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-strange-history-of-bubble-wrap-and-why-its-changing-1715657271