Star Product: Nilkamal BubbleGuard

Nilkamal's Mihir Parekh tells Sujith Ail how the new BubbleGuard polypropylene sheets are green and lightweight solution to a range of print and packaging applications

05 Sep 2018 | By Sujith Ail

What made Nilkamal venture into BubbleGuard in addition to its plastic furniture?
Nilkamal is best known for its plastic furniture product line and while we are the leaders in the category, we are a business with diverse expertise. In the past few years, Nilkamal has launched Nilkamal Mattrezzz, office seating solutions and a range of flat-pack wooden furniture as well. On the non-furniture front, Nilkamal is a leader in the material handling business and growing its presence in areas like warehousing and hospitality. Being a forward-looking brand, we are always looking for new innovative products and BubbleGuard fits that criteria.

What is a BubbleGuard?
BubbleGuard is an innovative range of polypropylene (PP) sheets designed to fit every application and industry. It has a unique multi-layer structure with a central honeycomb layer with non-collapsible bubbles. This means the sheet can be as thick or thin as you like, soft and flexible or strong and rigid, and it can be used across applications like construction, printing, packaging or panelling.

How does it work?
The BubbleGuard board features a unique circular honeycomb structure manufactured with patented European technology. According to Nilkamal, the airlock technology creates non-collapsible bubbles which provide a cushioning effect to ensure protection. The patented structure results in a high strength-to-weight ratio, making these panels strong and durable yet lightweight.

What's the USP?
What makes Nilkamal BubbleGuard so versatile and unique is our understanding of the material and our approach to changing customer needs. We have designed the product to be as customisable as possible and thus the boards are available in a range that varies from thin and flexible to strong and rigid and is available in a series that starts at 250gsm and goes up to as high as 3500gsm, depending on the application.”

When did you introduce this substrate/ technology into the market?
We launched BubbleGuard in 2017 with six variants namely FloorGuard, WoodGuard, PrintGuard, PackGuard, SheetGuard and CoilGuard.  As we continue to launch new products under the BubbleGuard series, we have plans to launch three new products for packaging and panelling this year.

BubbleGuard is being used in industrial packaging such as packing of coils, as a separator and also as a packaging case. Can you brief us about each of these applications? And, please explain how each of these applications has been doing in the market.

Since BubbleGuard is such a versatile product, it is the perfect solution for all types of packaging requirements. It is being used to wrap and protect large steel coils because the bubble structure helps cushion the load and protects the coil from impact and damage. The same sheet can be made into boxes which are more efficient as compared to their paper-based substitutes since it can be used for more than 50-100 cycles, and can be fully collapsed when returning empty boxes. BubbleGuard is 100% PP, fully recyclable making them eco-friendly. We also manufacture separator sheets and partitions of BubbleGuard which are as high as 3,500gsm. In terms of strength, they are at par with plywood of a similar thickness with the added advantages of being ultra-lightweight.

What are the customer experiences of using BubbleGuard?
Customers that have switched to BubbleGuard from conventional materials now refuse to switch back. The reusability aspect of the product makes it the most cost-effective solution for packaging. Even for printing, there is no other print media that has a totally flat surface, strong rigidity, lightweight which can be cut and fabricated as required.

The same product can also be used for printing and signage...
The core technology remains the same, but we offer a different variant of BubbleGuard specifically designed for printing. The sheet is perfect for rigid signage or POS displays both indoors and outdoors. There is no other print media that has a totally flat surface, strong rigidity, lightweight and can be cut and fabricated as required.

Among all the sectors of BubbleGuard, which has been the most successful until now?

I am happy to share that all the sectors have welcomed BubbleGuard with open arms.  It has however been most successful in the printing and packaging industries because of the host of benefits it offers to the user.

Considering the environment factor, how green and sustainable is the substrate?
BubbleGuard is very green. Nilkamal believes in sustainable manufacturing and takes every effort to produce each of our products in the most environmentally friendly way. Our factory has certified with the ISO 14001 for environmental management.

BubbleGuard is designed to be re-used multiple times and moreover, since it is made of 100% virgin polypropylene, it is 100% recyclable thereby lowering the carbon footprint. BubbleGuard replaces paper, wood, PVC and other unsustainable alternatives for packaging, printing and protection.

What are the marketing and sales strategies of BubbleGuard?
We have a strong network of distributors and channel partners pan India for our standard products. We do direct business with customers who need customised solutions. BubbleGuard is fully customisable in size, grammage, colour and branding.

Do you cater to markets outside India?
At the moment we are focusing completely on the Indian market.

Where do you see BubbleGuard technology in the next five years?
Each week we are thinking up new applications for the product. Over the next five years, this product could completely transform packaging and printing as a single source solution.