Air column bags, also known as air column cushioning bags, inflatable bags, air bags, air bubble column bags, are a new type of packaging materials which are inflated with air in a host of air chambers. Under normal conditions, both the raw materials and the finished products are completely clean, and will not cause any pollution. When used as packaging materials, air column packing snugly encapsulate products and minimize potential losses and damages resulting from road bumps and accidental fall in transportation by providing cushioning protection.
Air column packing are made of either linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) or nylon film. LLDPE are milky white particles featuring non-toxic, tastelessness, odorlessness, high tensile strength, and penetration resistance. And nylon is characterized by its wear resistance, heat resistance, and good resilience. Through extrusion coating or through co-extrusion, air-tight air columns are formed in a membrane-like way with a thickness of 0.06mm to 0.1mm and are then inflated when being used.
A single time of inflation is sufficient to fill all the columns of air bag. It adopts backstop valves to automatically lock the air inside each column. Each column forms an independent air chamber. When an air chamber is damaged, then only the damaged column fail partially. The rest of the columns will be completely unaffected and offer anti-seismic protection effectively. An air column bag is usually long-lasting without air leakage.
360-degree air cushioning protection can be customized according to the size of the product, which can minimize the likelihood of damage of items in the transportation process. Compared with traditional packaging materials, the item will be less likely to be damaged on account of too much space in the inner box of the package where the goods will often be displaced during the transportation process. Even be extrusion, air column bags’ close-fitting design can disperse pressure to avoid damage. Generally, an air column bag can withstand around 200kg.
1. Generally, the raw materials for manufacturing air column bags are PE and PA films. They feature high tear and puncture resistance and excellent water, gas, grease and aroma permeability. They have stable physique and chemical properties and do not age easily. They can provide excellent protection performance with pressure bearing capacity of at least 200kg each. PE and PA films are from heavy metals and are non-toxic in the case of combustion. They are pollution-free and recyclable. Nowadays, they have been widely used as an environmentally-friendly alternative to EPE and pulp for fabricating packaging materials.
2. The manufacturing and processing of air column bags are extremely cost-effective thanks to the completely mechanized and automated production process. The manufacturing of are free from molding and save significant research and development costs.
3. Air column bags are inflated manually before use and the amount of air to be inflated from the air inlet can be adjusted according to the size of the product to be packaged. Within its maximum inlet air limit, the product can be packaged in a close-fitting manner to prevent damage during transportation. Air column bags facilitate packaging as a small air pump like a domestic vacuum would suffice to inflate a large number of air column bags can significantly reduce packaging process, save manpower, save time and improve packaging efficiency.
4. Air column bags are flat before use and a single air column bag can be as thick as 0.06mm. Compared with traditional packaging materials like bubble cushioning, save more room for storage.
5. Air column bags boast a unique design that makes each column an independent air chamber with a check valve. Damage of a single column will not lead to the failure of the whole air column bag. The rest of the columns can remain intact and continue to provide the desired shockproof protection. An air column bag can effectively seal the air inside of the bag in 3-6 months after inflation.
The increasing popularity of air column bags is closely relevant to the rise of e-commerce and online retailing. It remains unknown as to when are firstly be used as packaging materials, however, their visibility and use have been ever-improving and have been used an alternative to traditional packaging materials like EPE foam, PES polystyrene, and paper-plastic materials. The chart below shows a set of comparisons between air column bags and traditional packaging materials.
Air Column Bags
Paper-plastic paper holder (Molding)
An elegant and simple solution to significantly improve packaging appearance and corporate image
Failure to improve the corporate image
Potential adverse impacts on a company's image
Ordinary appearance, Failure to Improve the Corporate Image
Raw materials costs are slightly higher, while they save costs in warehousing and labor
Low cost while molding may cost much
Ideal cushioning performance for a wide range of items
Excellent cushioning performance
Rigid texture and poor cushioning performance, vulnerable to damage during transportation
Poor cushioning performance, unsuitable for heavy goods which are easily vulnerable to damage during transportation
Flat before use requiring little storage
Huge in volume,
Consumption of huge warehousing costs
Large in size incurring huge warehousing costs
Environmentally friendly and recyclable
Large volume and high recovery cost
Unrecyclable, potential pollutants to the environment
Environmental protection, recyclable, but the paper-making process emits pollutants
Customized printing available
Customized printing not available
Customized printing not available
Despite the above-mentioned advantages over other packaging materials, it should also be noted air column packing are, to some extent, similar to types that are subject to air leakage. Air leakage occurs either when the films of the air column bags are damaged or when the check valves used to seal the air chambers are sub-standard. Generally, air leak from the films and the check valves accounts for 20% and 80% respectively. The air leakage of an air column bag can be 15% yearly after being inflated, which is inevitable. For the purpose of the best cushioning performance, it is suggested to take the following steps when air column bags are being used.
1. Duly increase the air pressure of the air column bags when inflating them. In practice, air pressure at 82.73kpa can effectively compensate for the potential leakage.
2. Despite the fact that air chambers are sealed with check valves without needing extra sealing measures, it is suggested that sealing of the air inlets of air column bags be done to prevent the air column bags from air leakage. A sealing machine can help to achieve this end when air column bags are expected to function for over one year or to be used for multiple times.
3. In the case of continuous or long-time use, air column bags are supposed to be inflated for a second time to maintain the best cushioning performance.
Air-column bags have been used for a wide range of applications in the vast majority of industries related to packaging and logistics. Air column bags are ideal alternatives to EPE, EPS, paper-plastic and polystyrene. Sunshinepack has witnessed the shift of the packaging industry from traditional packaging materials to new environmental protection cushioning air-column packaging material, which features not only lower cost, environmental friendliness, but also excellent cushioning performance.
Ÿ Instant inflation and convenient use significantly save packaging time and improve logistics speed.
Ÿ Space utilization efficiency inside of the outer packaging can be improved as air column bags provide the maximum protection from vibration and impact shock with the minimum space occupancy.
Ÿ Automatic inflation with air compressors saves human resources and improves packaging efficiency.
Ÿ High-quality PA+PE co-extrusion films featuring high toughness and excellent resilience provide excellent cushioning performance.
Ÿ It can be used for packaging a wide range of products including bottles, mobile phones, and laptops.
It is these advantages that make them increasingly visible in the following applications.
1. Packaging of general items in large quantity and various sizes
Logistics service is a crucial link for an enterprise to win a place in the development of e-commerce and online shopping. Sunshinepack believes that the delivery speed and damage control are important factors for logistics service providers to maintain competitiveness, advance service quality and improve profitability. One of the most challenging issues that logistics companies face is that they deal with goods to be delivered in various types and sizes. Traditional cushioning materials have been proven to be an inefficient solution when dealing with different types of products. Traditional cushioning materials provides cushioning for products by simply filling the space in the outer package. The materials to be used will become considerable when the difference in size between the product and the outer package is significant. Air column bags, instead of filling the space between the product and the outer package, mold snugly around the product thanks to multiple air chambers. It is a more efficient and environmentally friendly way to complete the cushioning.
2. Packaging of fragile and delicate items
The storm of e-commerce retail has swept our everyday life in the form of online shopping platforms, O2O, physical stores in a sweeping manner and created an unprecedentedly close link between customers and products. Reliable packaging and sound delivery of products play a vital role in completing transactions and establishing a good reputation. Air column bags are especially suited for detailer engaging with fragile and delicate products such as wines, glassware, mobile phones, laptops, and handicrafts. All these electronic products have one thing in common: fragile, easy to break, vulnerable to moisture heat, etc. When traditional foam boards, EPE foam, pulp molding filling, and polystyrene packaging materials are used, the transportation cost is higher and the protection may still fail to be in order. Moreover, preparing cushioning materials on their own can free online retailers from endless and troublesome disputes with carriers of packages. Package leakage and product damage may be one of the trickiest situations that need to be dealt with by sellers. Opinions of sellers and carriers always vary on whether the damage is reasonable and permissible. Apart from this, losing potential customers seems to be a more severe consequence. Air column bags help to retain customers by impressing them with intact delivery.
3. Packaging of foods and drinks
The key to satisfying delivery of foods and drinks is to keep the color, aroma, taste, shape, and texture under a stable variation in temperature. Therefore, the packaging is particularly important for foods and drinks delivery. It also poses major challenges to the hygiene of the packaging materials as they come to direct contact with the contents. Sunshinepack has been focusing on for food and drinks for many years. Air column bags can prevent foods and drinks from deformation, scratches, and deterioration with their waterproof, moisture-proof and thermos-proof properties. More importantly, Sunshinepack adopts dust-free workshop to ensure the cleanliness and hygiene in each step of the manufacturing of from materials processing to the finished products. Sunshinepack air column bags eliminate potential hazards that may be brought to the foods and drinks by packaging materials.
4.Packaging for hollow items
Hollow items include bags, shoes, plastic bottles and other items that are vulnerable to vibrations and impact shocks and hence are easy to be deformed. For these items, deformation, if any, will significantly and considerably impact the function and value. In this sense, air column bags are more used to fill the hollow of these items rather than snugly molding them. One of the most distinct advantages by using air column packingto fill these items is that they make the final package much more lightweight than those filled with solid cushioning materials.
After years of development and adoption, have emerged in a broad spectrum of options in size, type, and applications. It is next to impossible to enumerate each type of air column bags. However, almost all air column bags that can be found today are based on the following three basic types.
Air column bags of this type are so named because of their resemblance to character Q. They provide 360-degree encapsulation for packaging cosmetics, mobile phones, laptops, glassware, bottles, and other fragile and delicate products.
Air column bags of this type are so named because of their resemblance to character L. One side of an air column bag of this type is higher than the other side. The item to be packaged is first put into the air column bag and then press the higher side down to cover the opening of the other side. It can also deliver 360-degree encapsulation effectively. Air column bags of this type are suitable for relatively large-sized products, such as milk powder, canned condiments, cameras, and canned or boxed food with a large diameter.
As the name implies, air column bags of this type are U-shaped without a cap, which are usually used for packaging products with a large size or value, such as desktop computer screens, televisions, photo frames, and large handicrafts. Air column bags of this type serve as a safer and more reliable alternative to traditional foam cushioning materials partially because of their better cost-efficiency and environmental friendliness.
Air column bags have become increasingly popular on the market of packaging materials and come in a variety of options in width, thickness, and inflation mode. Below are some factors that should be considered before you decide which is going to be put into your cart.
The most commonly seen types of air column bags are Q-type, L-type and U-type. Different types suit different commodities to be packaged. For example, for glassware, bottled products like red wine and fragile and delicate items, Q-type air-column bags should be preferred. Choosing the right type of air column bags can not only give play to the air column bags to the fullest but also save costs.
2.Thickness and width
Air column bags on the market are usually available in 50μm, 60μm, 65μm, 70μm, 75μm, and 100μm. Generally, the content of nylon of an air column bag goes higher with its thickness, and so is the price. Higher nylon content will be of better quality with greater pressure absorbency and shock resilience. It may be a trick to strike a balance between the quality and the cost. According to the statistics of relevant experiments, the content of nylon of an air column bag should be at least a benchmark 20% when it is expected to deliver the desired performance. Under such circumstance, its thickness is 75μm, which we believe is the optimal thickness with the best performance and cost-efficiency.
Most air column bags have a width of 2CM, 3CM, 4CM and 6CM, making them already ideal packaging materials for a wide range of items that need packaging. When a smaller or larger width is wanted, try to approach a manufacturer of air column bags that provides customization services rather than trading companies.
3. Inflation mode
Air column bags of both manual inflation and automatic inflation modes can be found on the market. For small-sized air column bags, inflation mode will not have obvious impacts on the packaging efficiency with .However, for big-sized air column bags that may take a little longer to inflate as the air to be inflated, automatic inflation can significantly improve the efficiency and save labor costs. It is recommended to choose air column bags with a universal type of air inlet without needing to be equipped with specialized inflation device. Actually, air column bags can be inflated by using a proper vacuum and a hose. But one of the tricky things with automatic inflation is the control of the quantity of inlet air and the inflation speed. Try to use an air compressor with a moderate power so the can be properly inflated without the occurrence of explosion.
Air column bags are being used nowadays not only as a type of packaging materials but also proof of the keen attention of delivery security and user experience of a company. For this end, many companies wish to go even further by printing customized information on the such as the logo and contact information to increase the visibility of the company and improve the corporate image.
When manufactured in strict accordance with relevant industry standards, air column packing are supposed to be free from hazardous chemicals. However, it is strongly recommended that qualifications and certifications be presented before choosing the supplier of air column bags. SGS, CTI, and other applicable certifications can be deemed as proof of the non-toxic of the air column bags.