For decades after its invention in 1957, Bubble Wrap was consistently maker Sealed Air’s top seller. By 2012, the adored product had deflated to just 3.6% of its sales. Its new top seller: liquid foam, reports the Wall Street Journal. Why the hate on Bubble Wrap? Well, space is key in the world of packaging, and Bubble Wrap ships in huge, inflated rolls that take up a lot of room in a warehouse. With all the added air, it’s also expensive to ship. Now, Sealed Air has come up with a version that "eliminates the freight burden," a rep says. Whereas original Bubble Wrap contains individual air bubbles, the new iBubble Wrap is made of lines of joined bubbles inflated just before use, meaning it can be shipped cheaply and flat, taking up about one-fiftieth as much space as original Bubble Wrap. But there’s a catch: It can’t be popped. When a bubble is put under pressure, the squeezed air is simply pushed down the line.
A company that operates 120 distribution centers notes the logistics industry earns about $25 in revenue for each square foot of storage space. In other words, a 3,000-square-foot space used to store Bubble Wrap could cost a company $75,000 a year, the Journal reports. Not only is iBubble Wrap more compact than its predecessor, which is made from melted resin stretched over special rollers, it's also cheaper. However, the stuff must be inflated with a special pump that currently sells for $5,500; Sealed Air hopes to lower the price to $1,000 by 2017. The company is also researching whether small orders of iBubble Wrap could be delivered to shippers in trucks already stocked with pumps. So does this mean the end of our favorite stress-relieving, bubble-popping pastime? Thankfully, no. Sealed Air says it will offer both the original Bubble Wrap as well as the new version. (In other news, Walmart may offer unlimited shipping.)