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Are Inflatable Void Fills The Right Solution For You?

Michael Wilson | Jun 9, 2014

There’s a wide range of options to consider when you’re looking at void fill packaging, so there are many questions you need to answer before deciding on the best fit for your ...


There’s a wide range of options to consider when you’re looking at void fill packaging, so there are many questions you need to answer before deciding on the best fit for your specific applications. From molded foam to engineered paper solutions to inflatable pillows, there are characteristics that might make one material a better choice than another. You might also think about whether more eco-friendly alternatives would work, giving your company the opportunity to move in the direction of “green” initiatives that attract consumers. Inflatable void fills have become increasingly popular in the packaging industry, as they offer advantages over the bubble wrap and packing peanuts that are bulky and messy. Here are some of the more frequently asked questions to determine whether this innovation packaging design is right for your company.

What unique characteristics do inflatable void fills offer?

One of the top features of this type of void fill is that that many are shipped to your door in an uninflated state, saving you money on both shipping and storage. Bubble wrap is an excellent packing material because of its cushioning capabilities, and while lightweight, it still takes up a lot of space. You end up paying additional costs to ship and store large boxes.

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Another perk of inflatable packaging materials is that many are re-usable and can be recycled by the recipient. Being made of mostly recycled content, inflatable void fill alternatives are more eco-friendly than many options available today.

How is inflatable void fill packing different from cushioning materials?

The main difference between the two lies in the concept of void fill itself. When you’re shipping lighter, odd-shaped items that don’t completely fill the box they’re being packed in, there’s air space that needs to be filled to protect the contents. You need to fill up that space with volume, preferably something reasonably priced and quick to assemble. Inflatable void fills are ideal for these applications, because they expand into the space when filled with air.

Inflatable packing options also work well with heavier items and those which require cushioning on all sides. Inflatable bubble packaging has the flexibility to wrap around these objects, and also offers the advantage of being shipped uninflated to your shipping facility.

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Do I need specialized equipment for these solutions?

While a machine is necessary to pump air into the inflatable void fills, you won’t need to make a large capital investment to acquire the equipment you need. As a matter of fact, many companies that offer these solutions will provide the machines at no cost under certain circumstances. For the most part, these arrangements will require your company to only use the suppliers’ materials and you’ll have to meet certain minimum requirements. The upside is that the equipment will be repaired or replaced by the inflatable fill supplier, not your company.

What if my application is different from the norm?

Manufacturers of inflatable void fills understand that every company’s applications are different, so they’ve developed their solutions to be flexible. The options are almost limitless, with inflatable pillows in different sizes, strengths and grades. You can also choose “bubble on demand” products that you inflate when dealing with items that require six-sided protection in the box. There are also eco-friendly options, including inflatables made from post-consumer recycled goods and biodegradable formulas.

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Companies specializing in inflatable void fill products also recognize the special needs of certain shipments. If you ship sensitive equipment, try various anti-static formulations. For over-sized items, heavy duty and extra wide sheets are available. Large volume companies can also opt to custom print logos and images for brand recognition.

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