Who knew that bubble wrap would have such an interesting backstory?
According to Wikipedia, Bubble wrap was invented in 1957 by two engineers named Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes in Hawthorne, New Jersey. Initially, Fielding and Chavannes sealed two shower curtains together, creating some air bubbles, which they originally tried to sell as wallpaper(!). Predictably, the wallpaper market did not prove very fruitful. They then tried marketing it as greenhouse insulation with similar lack of success.
Although Bubble Wrap was branded by Sealed Air Corporation (founded by Fielding and Chavannes) in 1960, it was not until a year later that its use in protective packaging was discovered. As a packaging material, Bubble Wrap's first client was IBM which used the product to protect one of its large, mainframe computers during shipment. Fielding and Chavannes were inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in 1993 and why not? Their invention became one of the most useful products in its era.
Eventually Sealed Air figured out a way to line envelopes with its bubble product at which time the bubble envelope or bubble mailer was conceived. I don’t have any hard numbers on this but I’m guessing that bubble envelopes reached a peak in popularity during the halcyon days of compact discs. There was/is really nothing better in which to mail a CD than a bubble envelope. CDs are not as popular as they once were but bubble envelopes seem to be increasing in popularity from the plethora of small internet companies selling products that require some modest protection when shipping.
Elite Envelope gets a lot of hits on its website from small entrepreneurs who require bubble envelopes. Most of them want printing on the envelopes. A fair number want full coverage printing on the front and back. This is almost impossible to find in the market for the simple reason that bubble envelopes cannot feed through a four color press. A few years ago we responded with our “Smart Bubble” product. By using a removable bubble sleeve, we are able to print pretty much any type of coverage on a paper, Tyvek or Herculink envelope first and then insert the bubble sleeve. The protection is exactly the same and it has the added benefit of allowing the bubble sleeve itself to be reused or recycled rather than thrown in the trash with the envelope – hence the “Smart” part.
We’ve had some success with this product but recently, our engineers, actually one of our highly capable staff members Chris Gorman, devised a way to print pre made bubble envelopes by changing the configuration of one of our old presses (talk about recycling!). Chris is our lead pressman and floor manager for our printing department. He’s forgotten more about printing envelopes than I’ll ever know. We’ve printed these envelopes below on our “bubble press” and the quality is excellent.
Because printed bubble envelopes and printed bubble mailers are not easy to produce, there are not many sources which, predictably, makes them more expensive with less order flexibility (Not to mention long waits for quotes and deliveries). Many times a customer will face a 5,000 minimum on a printed item. That’s usually a lot more than your typical small business can justify. With Elite, you can order as few as you want. There will be a minimum set-up charge but we’ll be happy to print as few as 500 for you. We’ll also deliver in our usual 5-7 work days or sooner depending on when we get the order.So for pre-made bubble envelopes printed one or two colors up to around 9 x 12 overall size or pretty much any size envelope printed up to four colors with a “Smart Bubble” insert, we’re here to help!