Healthcare Technology Featured Article

August 18, 2020

Nicotine for the 21st Century: The 4 Technologies That Define Vaping

For millions of former smokers around the world, vaping has truly proven to be a life-changing technology. Anything that keeps nicotine users away from cigarettes is great for those individuals and even better for the public health burden that we all carry for the world’s smokers. Within the field of vaping, though, there have been several smaller incremental technological developments that have advanced the industry and helped to keep vaping as safe and enjoyable as it can be. These are the technologies that define the current state of the art in vaping. The next time you shop for e-liquid or a new vaping device from a vape store like V2 Cigs UK, take a moment to appreciate how much better your vaping experience is today compared to just a few short years ago.

Temperature Control

Temperature control has been available in most full-featured vape mods for the past several years. More recently, the feature has also been added to many smaller pod-based vaping systems. Temperature control vaping works on a fairly simple principle called the temperature coefficient of resistance. When a conductive material is heated, its electrical resistance changes – and if the resistance undergoes a change large enough that you can measure it with simple equipment, then you can use that information to estimate the temperature of the material. All that you need to know is the material’s TCR along with its starting resistance and current resistance.

That’s how temperature control works in a vape mod; the mod constantly monitors the resistance of the atomizer coil, measuring the change in resistance to estimate the coil’s current temperature. A vape mod’s temperature control feature allows the user to set a temperature limit for the atomizer coil, and if the coil reaches that limit, the mod instantly cuts its power output to reduce the coil’s temperature. Temperature control makes it possible for vapers to avoid the harsh “dry hits” that can happen when a tank or pod is empty, and the user forgets to refill it.

Pod-Based Delivery

Until around 2015, the most common technology for e-liquid delivery in smaller e-cigarettes was a small disposable cartridge called a cartomizer. Inside a cartomizer, a gauze-like material is wrapped around a small heating coil. The gauze is saturated with e-liquid, and the heat of the atomizer coil slowly draws the e-liquid inward as the cartomizer is used. With a cartomizer, there’s always a little waste because the cartridge loses its flavor before the gauze is completely dry. The vapor production of a cartomizer is also often fairly lackluster.

A vape pod is a small, hollow tank that doesn’t hold its e-liquid in gauze and instead uses a gravity-fed wick system to bring vape juice to the atomizer coil. Compared to cartomizers, pods have several benefits. Since a pod is transparent, you can see how much e-liquid is left simply by looking at it. In addition, the lack of gauze filler material promotes better airflow and vapor production. Pods are also less wasteful than cartomizers; you can use a pod until it is almost completely dry. Today, the most popular small e-cigarettes are based on pods rather than cartomizers.

Mesh Coils

A vaping coil is usually made from a length of resistance wire twisted into a spiral shape. The spiral shape gives the coil a large heating area and a circular interior shape that promotes good airflow. The spiral-shaped heating coil has served vapers well for many years, but the spiral shape has some inherent problems that come to light when you try to push the limits of that design for maximum vapor production.

What’s wrong with spiral-shaped coils for cloud chasing? The problem has to do with the fact that a coil needs to have a low electrical resistance if you want to run it at high wattages. You can think of a wire as being a little like a water pipe; if you want more electricity to flow through a wire, the wire needs to have a wide diameter. When it’s wound into a spiral shape, a high-gauge wire has an uneven profile with many small hills and valleys. E-liquid tends to collect in the valleys, making vaping coils with high-gauge wire susceptible to problems like loud popping during operation.

Rather than using a wound wire, a mesh vaping coil uses a mesh ribbon bent into a cylindrical shape. A mesh coil has as much surface area as a wound coil, which means that it produces the same amount of vapor. Because a mesh coil has a flat profile, though, it doesn’t encourage the e-liquid to form pools and is therefore much quieter during operation. Mesh coils also tend to last longer than wound coils and usually deliver superior flavor as well. Among vapers who love to chase big clouds, mesh coils became extremely popular almost from the moment they were introduced.

Short Circuit Detection

A vaping device needs intense heat to create the huge clouds that vapers love, and generating that heat requires a great deal of battery power. The power comes from one or more lithium-ion cells, and if you ever read the technology news headlines, you know that a lithium-ion battery can start a dangerous chemical fire if it overheats. That’s a serious problem in any consumer device, but it’s a particularly big concern with a device that you put in your mouth dozens of times every day.

Automatic battery monitoring is one of the most important technologies in vaping because it’s the technology helping to ensure vapers’ safety. The most important safety technology in a vape mod is short circuit detection, which causes a mod to shut down and display an error message if the atomizer coil has a short circuit and isn’t safe to use. Vape mods also check for other potential problems such as overheating, low battery voltage and abnormally high currents. Keeping the cell within the proper temperature and amperage ranges is a major aspect of safe battery operation, and today’s vape mods perform those tasks very well.

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