Bubbles in wet, gummed wine labels

P. Broadbridge, G.R. Fulford, Neville Fowkes, D.Y.C. Chan, C. Lassig

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    It is shown that bubbling on wine bottle labels is due to absorption of water from the glue, with subsequent hygroscopic expansion. Contrary to popular belief, most of the glue's water must be lost to the atmosphere rather than to the paper. A simple lubrication model is developed for spreading glue piles in the pressure chamber of the labelling machine. This model predicts a maximum rate for application of labels. Buckling theory shows that the current arrangement of periodic glue strips can indeed accommodate paper expansion. This project provides interesting applications of various areas of undergraduate mathematics, such as trigonometry, Maclaurin series, dimensional analysis, and fluid mechanics. It illustrates that simple mathematical modelling may provide insight into a complicated real-world problem.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)363-372
    JournalSIAM Review
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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