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In English, there are quite a few words to describe materials used to pad and insulate packages that are being shipped from one place to another:

  • packing peanuts or foam peanuts are individual pieces of small foam
  • bubble wrap describes sheets of plastic with many small embedded bubbles of air
  • Styrofoam is a material often found padding objects during shipment
  • shrink wrap is a plastic film that forms a seal over an object
  • padding refers generally to any material that cushions objects
  • packing materials is a general term describing any of the objects above

How would each of these terms be best translated to Spanish?

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Spain:

  • packing peanuts: there's no formal word. On my neck of the woods, we use "palomitas" (popcorn)
  • bubble wrap: papel de burbujas
  • Styrofoam: again, no formal word that I know of. I use "porexpán", which I believe is a commercial name for the product (you can check other names elsewhere in http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poliestireno_expandido )
  • shrink wrap: no specific name... "plástico"
  • padding: relleno
  • packing materials: material de embalaje or material para empaquetar
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    A Colombian would translate packing peanuts as bolitas de icopor and Styrofoam as Icopor (Industria COlombiana de PORosos - ICOPOR). Other than that; same as Alex's answer. – Icarus Dec 21 '11 at 18:54
  • @Icarus: You should make your own answer so we can upvote that one too. :) – Ethan Furman Dec 21 '11 at 21:25
  • @ethan furman thanks, I will do that next time :) – Icarus Dec 21 '11 at 22:55
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In Bolivia, I learned "PLASTOFOR" for STYROFOAM, and in Chile we call it "PLUMAVIT". All three are presumably brand names or trademarks for "poliestireno expandido", the generic name for a relatively modern material. Shrink wrap is known in Chile as "alusa" or as "estretch film".

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