How do you ship something over long distances without increasing the chances of that item being broken when it arrives at its destination? This is the problem that Dow Chemical looked to solve in the mid-1960’s and their purchase of a patent of the packing peanut changed the way items would be shipped forever. The first packing peanuts where made from polystyrene resin, a virgin product that had an environmental impact. Since the mid-1990’s, however, recycled polystyrene is primarily used in the traditional packing peanut.
The modern day packing peanut comes in a variety of other forms as well. One of the most popular methods to create this packing peanut today is the starch variety that is completely biodegradable and even dissolves in water.
Do Packing Peanuts Have an Actual Inventor?
If you look at patent for the initial invention of the packing peanut, you’ll see that Robert E. Holden first filed for the patent in 1962. This patent was was granted in 1965 and what is interesting about the description of the item is that it was also suggested as a insulation material as it offered good heat insulation. It’s called an improvement over popcorn and shredded newspaper.
To facilitate the creation of the packing peanut, Holden also invented an apparatus that would help to cut and expand plastic members through a steaming process. By feeding plastic strips through the device, it would create the foamy cellular structure that is the trademark of the classic packing peanuts. It also allowed the plastic to be created in such a way that they would interlock, providing a more secure shipping solution.
Holden was a prolific inventor who sold a number of his inventions and ideas to organizations over the years. He was also part of the team that invented the sealed switch keypad control panel, which allows for a more secure type of keypad because the sealant channel prevents the ability of moisture or debris from entering into the electronics of the device.
What Do We Know About Robert Holden?
There isn’t a whole lot of information that you can find about Holden on the internet today. All that can really said about this inventor is that he was born in 1933 and was able to sell his patent on the packing peanuts to the Dow Chemical company at some point after it was awarded to him. Most people consider Dow as the inventor of the packing peanut because they own the rights to the patent, but that is simply not the case. Holden died in Beaverton, OR in 2011.
Even though he may not necessarily be known as a famous inventor, Holden created the foundation of a product that has helped numerous people over the past 50 years. With the ability to safely ship items, the ecommerce industry is booming today and it is because of his foresight that made it possible. Instead of military shipments in popcorn or shredded newspaper, his product kept items secure even with rough handling.
His story is really the same as many in the United States today. Many people contribute great things, yet are only known to their close inner circle for their contributions. What this means is simple: anyone with one good idea can change the world and not even know it.