By David Schuman

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (WCCO) — A major Twin Cities corporation believes it’s found a green, sustainable way to pack and ship delicate objects.

Tom Corrigan, an inventor for 3M, remembers the exact moment the light bulb went off and he came up with the perfect kiragami pattern. Kiragami is a Japanese art form of cutting and folding paper.

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“Once [my design] expands, you get these wall-like structures that are completely vertical, so from a mechanical engineering point of view, you get this huge strength,” Corrigan said.

Corrigan had solved one of the company’s problems.

“Our goal is to replace plastic bubble [wrap] with a sustainable solution,” said Mark Copman, the president of 3M’s stationery and office supplies division.

Corrigan’s paper design became Cushion Lock: a green, recyclable alternative to the plastic bubble wrap we all love to pop.

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“There’s an actual, growing demand,” Corrigan said. “Like if you tried to do this 30 years ago, would people have been interested? Maybe not.”

The paper expands to 60 times the size of what it looks like flat and interlocks with itself to create a nest.

Corrigan says the pattern cut into the paper is “magic.”

“The vast majority of bubble [wrap] is not recycled,” Copman said. “It’s about a $175 million market and most of it is not recycled.”

The Cushion Lock wrap is available at Target, Staples and on Amazon.

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“Hopefully people adapt it and decide to start going this direction and we can make a difference,” Corrigan said.

David Schuman