Manufacturing Single Use Vape Cartridges

Manufacturing Single Use Vape Cartridges

Growing Vape Market

The vape market has been on the rise for several years and is projected to continue to grow at a rapid pace The global e-cigarette and vape market size was valued at USD 10,261.8 million in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 24.9% from 2019 to 2025 1. Single use vape cartridges are used for both disposable and rechargeable vaporizers. Recent health concerns associated with the growing vape market will drive spur increased regulations for manufacturing vape cartridges. These increased regulations will drive demand for more accurate and reliable manufacturing equipment as seen in the Pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. Zaxis Inc. pumps are already being used to manufacture pharmaceuticals because of the eVmP’s exceptional precision and accuracy. The manufacturing of vape cartridges requires pumps that can handle highly viscous fluids while dispensing very precise doses in each cartridge. Zaxis Inc. metering pumps use positive displacement to pump fluids making them ideal for fluids with low or high viscosity. A natural progression for the vaping industry will be to convert their existing pump equipment to the Zaxis eVmP precision dispensing system.

Highly Viscous Fluids

Concentrated plant-based oils such as cannabis and hemp are known to be highly viscous fluids. Manufacturers use a number of different techniques to obtain the correct fluid viscosity for vape cartridges including distillates with thinning agents, cutting/infusing the oil with additives to thin the consistency, or infusing terpenes and strain-specific flavorings.

On a manufacturing production line all metering and dispensing pumps need to be able to overcome the backpressure the highly viscous fluids create. The Zaxis eVmP VS-Series was design specifically to deal with highly viscus fluids. The servo driven motor has nearly 4 times the torque of a traditional stepper motor and can handle flow rates near 2,000 mL/min and back pressure up to 200 psi. Meaning, the eVmP VS-Series can not only overcome the backpressure created by highly viscous fluids, is can dispense at a faster rate increasing product line throughput.

Precision Dosing

When manufacturing single use cartridges precision dosing is essential. In the Vape industry the FDA is particularly strict upon delivering exactly what is on the product label. Inconsistent dosing can upset end users if they receive a less than full product. Inconsistent dosing and overfilling can also have a damaging effect on the financial bottom-line of production.

The rising market has shined a spotlight on the Vape industry. Consumer safety is a top priority and with that comes higher quality control, including the repeatability of precision mixing ingredients. The FDA states that if you do not report your ingredients or changes to your ingredient quantities “your products may be deemed “misbranded” under federal law and therefore, subject to regulatory action, including seizure and injunction. Submission of false information is also punishable by criminal and civil law.2” If an e-liquid or “juice” mixture diverges from its label by the smallest percentage the FDA often requires destruction of the entire batch including video evidence of its destruction. Precision metering/dosing is vital to the successful and safe manufacturing of e-liquids.

The Zaxis eVmP system achieves +/- 0.5% full scale accuracy and 0.5 CV with 0.01 µL resolution through the use of a rotating and reciprocating positive displacement design. The use of positive displacement in the eVmP design helps reduce the risk of contamination or bleed over between packages. The difference between the external diameter of the piston and the internal diameter of the liner is near perfect. This means when the piston head is drawn away from the fluid path a vacuum is created ensuring volume remains constant through the entire cycle of operation. Furthermore, the eVmP rotating and reciprocating design renders highly repeatable results. With stainless steel pump head construction and sapphire hard, alumina ceramic, internals Zaxis eVmP pumps will last for millions of maintenance free cycles.

Not only is the FDA scrupulous when it comes to ingredients and dosages, the Vape industry also has a discerning customer base that is well informed about their products and often demand high standards that preserve a plant’s unique profile, flavor, and complexity. Precisely mixing each element of a juice as a distinct individual dose can be far more exact than big batch mixing producing a very high-quality product and reducing the margin of error and potential waste.

No One Wants a Leaking Pen

Many of the first Vape pens came with a warning not to lay them down or tip them over as the oil from the tank would often leak out. Cartridge design has evolved over the last few years and with the vape market on the rise the development and refinement of cartridge design is a continual process. There are several different leak tests that can be performed to validate a cartridge design. Closing off the vents and running a pressure decay test through the mouthpiece will validate all of the seals and ensure the tank is leak tight. Then opening the vents and running a mass flow test through the cartridge is especially helpful in validating that an atomizer filter design will not leak fluid.

The Isaac HD and Zaxis 7i are multi-function leak testers that have the capability of running multiple kinds of tests in the same unit. Both leak testers come with electronic regulators and up to 100 stored programs. This mean the air pressure setting will automatically adjust from test to test saving time and removing user error. Finding a desired flow rate for a cartridge is a delicate and precise task as the flow of air should be unimpeded while the flow of liquid should not pass through the saturated filter in full drops. The intuitive user interface makes test parameters easy to adjust and customize. The ability of the Isaac HD and Zaxis 7i to set and sense the difference between such tight parameters allows designers to develop cartridges that function perfectly without leaking.

Conclusion

The Zaxis eVmP VS-Series is ideal for handling the highly viscous fluid and extreme precision required for manufacturing single-use vape cartridges. The VS-Series servo motor technology is not only powerful enough to overcome the backpressure created by highly viscous fluids, but it also has the speed and accuracy to increase quality throughput. The Zaxis line of leak testers can validate the design of any vape cartridge as well as determine if there are any cartridge leaks or defects.

  1. Grand View Research. “E-cigarette And Vape Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Distribution Channel (Online, Retail), By Product, By Component, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2019 – 2025” Grand View Research, July. 2019 https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/e-cigarette-vaping-market
  2. FDA “ How Do I Comply with FDA’s Tobacco Regulations?” FDA  27, Aug. 2019 https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/compliance-enforcement-training/manufacturing 
Battery Manufacturing

Battery Manufacturing

Battery manufacturing is an ever-expanding industry that is constantly adapting to new technology. The rising expectations of battery technology generates innovation at a rate seldom matched by other industries. A battery production line must be designed with flexibility in mind to deal with new and changing formats, rigorous quality testing, and produce stable and reproducible products.

Flexible Production

There are a number of battery types in production today, most of which are in a near constant state of research and development, which requires a flexible production line. Manufacturers experiment with new alloys, mixtures and slurries endeavoring to increase output and efficiency or reduce raw material consumption. The ability to adapt an existing production line to a new product or a new variation of an existing product is crucial.

With manufacturing flexibility in mind, the patented Zaxis eVmP (Electronic Variable Metering Pump) system allows for simple electronic adjustment. eVmP pumps are designed for high accuracy, low volume dispensing of electrolytes, slurries, and lubricants used in the manufacturing of several battery types, including lithium ion, button cell, AAA, AA, C and D. Internal pump components of the eVmP are made of chemically inert, sapphire-hard ceramics, making them ideal for dispensing corrosive KOH electrolytes, as well as viscous, abrasive slurries. eVmP pump heads are designed for millions of maintenance free cycles. Flexible production is the core of the eVmP system.

Increased Quality Requirements 

Quality assurance is an important factor in any industry but the growing dependence on electronic devices has excessively raised the expectations of battery quality by consumers. When working with electrolytes, slurries, lubricants, and other fluids, containment is critical. These abrasive and corrosive fluids can cause major damage to electronic devices through the smallest of leaks. To identify a leak on a sealed enclosure, such as a battery, a Chamber leak test is used.

A Chamber leak test is used to find leaks in sealed packaging or sealed devices without an opening to use for filling. A reference volume is filled to a pressure, after pneumatic isolation the volume is then introduced to the test chamber. A known good part will fill to the desired test pressure, while a part with a gross leak will not reach test pressure. This difference between the test pressures determines the pressure tolerance. A part that doesn’t fill to the test pressure within the pressure tolerance is a gross leak and will fail the test. If the part passes this gross test, the testing continues with a typical pressure decay test step to detect fine leaks.

The Isaac HD by Zaxis is a multi-function leak tester built for a flexible production environment. The Isaac HD can store up to 100 different programs for simple product changeover during production. The modular design of the Isaac HD allows custom configurations for highly specialized tests. To run a Chamber leak test a drawer fixture is required. The less negative space between the drawer’s chamber and the products, the faster the test can be performed. Zaxis will custom build drawer chambers to the unique specifications of the product being tested.

Stable/Repeatable Mass Production

Creating a production process that can produce dependable and repeatable products has never been more important, especially considering the dynamic requirements of battery manufacturing.

The Zaxis Dual Channel eVmP’s positive displacement pumping action maintains better than 1% accuracy and 0.5% CV(Precision) enabling highly reproducible results for mass production. The Dual Channel eVmP pump design integrates ceramic valve-less piston pump technology with Zaxis’ patented precision stepper motor control and integrated electronics, built into an IP45 rated, 316SS enclosure, which is suitable for bench top or integrated automation equipment. The dual channel configuration of the eVmP increases production output, and fully integrates power supply and communication cables. The Zaxis eVmP system has dispensing capabilities that can handle metering from microliters to 9 liters per minute.  

The Isaac HD by Zaxis contains a small, rigid internal test volume of less than 1cc. and a 24-bit analog to digital converter which enables high sensitivity and excellent reproducibility. Additionally the modular design of the Isaac HD with custom-built drawer fixtures produce a tailor-made leak tester that can achieve a resolution of 0.00001 psi with extremely repeatable results.

Conclusion

The expectations of the battery manufacturing industry are rising, and production lines must be built to meet those expectations. Creating a flexible production line that contains rigorous quality testing and precision equipment is pivotal to any battery manufacturer. Using the Zaxis eVMP for dispensing and the Zaxis leak test products for leak testing, battery manufacturers can ensure they remain flexible and productive, while maintaining high quality and reproducibility.

Patent for Dynamically Adjustable Reciprocating Fluid Dispenser

Patent for Dynamically Adjustable Reciprocating Fluid Dispenser

Electronic Variable Metering Pump (eVmP)

The patented eVmP system is a precision metering and fluid dispenser combined with a detachable Touch Screen Interface (TSi) for simple programing and immediate teach and control. This pump technology combines precision ceramic pump components and an electronically controlled linear stepper actuator to make ultra-fine adjustments to angle position, thereby changing the volume of metered liquid. This allows the eVmP system to provide dynamic fluid displacement to overcome variations in viscosity and surface tension. The eVmP is the latest in fluid metering and dispense technology.

Summary of the Invention

The present invention relates to accurately and repeatably dispensing fluid. In particular, the present invention relates to systems and methods for providing a dynamically adjustable, synchronously and/or asynchronously reciprocating fluid dispenser. 

Implementation of the present invention takes place in association with a reciprocating fluid pump. A pump drive motor is coupled to the reciprocating fluid pump to actuate a pump shaft within a pump cylinder, wherein the pump shaft includes a cut out portion (duct) that allows fluid to selectively pass thereby within the pump cylinder. As the pump shaft rotates within the pump cylinder, fluid is allowed to enter into a pump bore defined by a portion of the pump cylinder through a pump ingress port. As the pump shaft rotates, it blocks the pump ingress port. Further rotation allows the duct to allow the fluid in the pump bore to be dispensed through a pump egress port. This process may be repeated for subsequently dispensing volumes of fluid using the reciprocating fluid pump. 

Implementation of the present invention further includes an adjustment motor (e.g., a linear actuator, etc.) that is coupled to an adjustment mechanism, which selectively adjusts the volume of the pump bore. In at least one implementation, the volume of the pump bore is adjusted as the angle of the pump shaft is modified. A modification of the angle changes the stroke of the pump shaft. In another implementation, the volume of the pump bore is adjusted through a system of gears to selectively change the stroke of the pump shaft. Further, at least some implementations allow for synchronous and/or asynchronous reciprocation. 

Further implementation includes a controller coupled to the adjustment motor to dynamically control the adjustment motor to cause the adjustment mechanism to be precisely and repeatably modified. As such, the volume of fluid dispensed is extremely accurate, repeatable, and dynamic. Moreover, a controller may be used to provide control over the particular waveform of a synchronously and/or asynchronously reciprocating fluid dispenser. 

As the methods and processes of the present invention have proven to be useful in the area of dynamically dispensing fluid, those skilled in the art can appreciate that the methods and processes can be used in a variety of different applications, in a variety of different areas of manufacture to yield, and embrace a variety of different kinds of fluids. Examples of such industries include the medical industry, the industrial industry, the electronics industry, the food industry, the dairy industry, the precision cleaning industry, the cosmetic industry, the hygene industry, etc. Examples of such fluids include adhesives, lubricants, chemicals, drugs, paints, pigments, resins, solvents, epoxies, inks, ceramic slurries, solutions, candy coatings, polishes, flavorings, food preservations, cleaning agents, pigments, fragrances, gases, liquids, ets. 

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will be set forth or will become more fully apparent in the description that follows and in the appended claims. The features and advantages may be realized and obtained by means of the instruments and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims. Furthermore, the features and advantages of the invention may be learned by the practice of the invention or will be obvious from the description, as set forth hereinafter. 

Background of the Invention

The present invention relates to accurately and repeatably dispensing fluid. In particular, the present invention relates to systems and methods for providing a dynamically adjustable, synchronously and/or asynchronously reciprocating fluid dispenser. 

A variety of industries require a safe, accurate handling of fluid. One such industry is the medical industry. By way of example, in the medical industry an assay testing procedure is typically employed to determine whether an infectious disease (e.g., hepatitis or another infectious disease) is present in a particular blood serum. As part of the testing procedure, a biological sample is disposed into a testing receptacle. A reagent is added to the biological sample. In performing the test, it is important that the amount of the biological sample and the amount of the reagent are accurate. In particular, the amount of the reagent added to the biological sample may be in the range of 50 .mu.L-100 .mu.L, with a required accuracy of .+-.0.5 .mu.L. 

The assay testing procedure may further include a variety of separate test receptacles to perform a variety of assay tests to confirm and/or compare results. Some assay testing procedures may include disposing a series of specific reagents. 

Valveless, positive displacement pumps have been used in applications that require a safe, accurate handling of fluid. An example of a valveless, positive displacement pump is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,008,003. While the pump disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,008,003 is an available technique, the pump does not provide an accurate calibration for metering and dispensing fluids. For example, the piston stroke of the pump is not easily adjusted and the angular displacement of the ports cannot be readily calibrated. 

Further problems with techniques used in industries that require a safe, accurate handling of fluid include the fact that complex pump designs increase the likelihood for error in manufacturing and assembling the pumps. And, pump designs with moving parts contribute to field failure and maintenance costs. 

Thus, while techniques currently exist that are used in industries requiring a safe, accurate handling of fluid, challenges still exist with such techniques, including a requirement for calibration of the fluid-handling device for each surrounding condition, an inability to provide accurate calibration, an increased likelihood for error, an increased likelihood for field failure, increased maintenance costs, and other such challenges. Accordingly, it would be an improvement in the art to augment or even replace current techniques with other techniques. 

United State Patent
Granted May 4, 2010 to
Zaxis, Inc.

-Assignee-
Patent No. US7,708,535 b2

Systems and methods for providing a dynamically adjustable reciprocating fluid dispenser

EtherNet/IP in Factory Automation

EtherNet/IP in Factory Automation

Data communication is a vital component in factory automation. The ability to have real time communication between a sensor-actuator network of devices and the controller/enterprise network is essential for maximizing quality and throughput. Zaxis has implemented EtherNet/IP in both our automated leak testers (Zaxis PD, and iKit) and our Electronic Variable Metering Pump (eVmP).

EtherNet/IP is an industrial network protocol designed for real time communication between all devices, not just those connected to controllers. This is accomplished by utilizing the traditional Ethernet infrastructure including hardware and both of the most commonly used collections of Ethernet standards, the Internet Protocol suite and IEEE 802.3, and integrating the Common Industrial Protocol.

 

What Does That Mean?

  • Ethernet Hardware: Most commonly, when someone thinks of Ethernet they think of that cable plugged into their desktop or the printer at work. An Ethernet cable is one of the most common network cables, used to connect devices, such as computers and routers, together enabling them to share files with each other or connect to the internet.
  • Internet Protocol suite: A standard set of transport and control protocols that handle the communication of information which is commonly used in the internet and most PCs
  • IEEE 802.3: A commonly available flexible network architecture that can incorporate IP67-rated industrial connectors.
  • Common Industrial Protocol: A communications protocol used to transfer automation data between devices. CIP utilized objects defined by each device on the network (required objects, application objects, and vendor objects). This created predefined device types with specific behaviors. CIP also contains messages and services tailored to factory automation including motion, control, safety and energy applications.

 

Put Them Together, What Do You Get?

“Data anytime, anywhere” says ODVA1, the global standards development group that manages EtherNet/IP. With the combination of traditional Ethernet and CIP, devices can communicate directly with each other rather than through routers or switches. With EtherNet/IP the automation or sensor-actuator network can be integrated into the enterprise network. No more dressing up for a clean room production floor or pulling on your steel toe boots just to make one minor adjustment, make whatever device adjustments you want from your desk.

The robust hardware, by itself, is optimal for a factory environment. Often on factory floors electronics have to withstand extreme temperatures, vibrations, or particulate matter. The Ethernet cable also saves time and frustration during set up. I/O network configuration can be daunting and time consuming as it requires the individual stripping and configuring of each wire whereas an Ethernet cable is simply plugged in.

I/O networking requires time consuming physical integration.

EtherNet/IP integration involves simply plugging a device into the network.

EtherNet/IP can transfer basic I/O data, or it can upload and download parameters and programs, monitor state-of-change and more. The versatility of EtherNet/IP allows you to set up your facility customized to your needs with a wide range of system designs such as unicast (one-to-one), multicast (one-to-many), and broadcast (one-to-all) communication.

EtherNet/IP is a complete suite of network functionality that implements physical, data link, network, transport, session, presentation and application. Its quick response time provides greater throughput, couple this with its market saturation and continued vendor support, EtherNet/IP is an excellent factory automation solution for years to come.

 

  1. ODVA “EtherNet/IP” Oct. 2015, https://www.odva.org/Technology-Standards/EtherNet-IP/Overview
Manufacturing Diagnostic Reagent Kits

Manufacturing Diagnostic Reagent Kits

The manufacturing of diagnostic reagent kits can be challenging. These reagent kits contain all of the major components necessary to perform designated diagnostic tests or procedures. Applications for these kits include in vitro and molecular diagnostics, biomarkers, clinical chemistry, diabetes, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), test strips, and illicit drug testing. They can be used in a laboratory, at the point of care (POC), or for personal use in cases like pregnancy tests, glucose strips, or at home DNA ancestry tests.

The manufacturing of these reagent kits usually calls for the dispensing of very small–very precise amounts of fluid of varying chemical make-up. The eVmP Micro Pump is ideal for integrated, turnkey, or laboratory applications that require metering and dispensing of liquid enzymes, buffers, diluents, standards, calibrators, and controls used in diagnostic test kits.

The chemical make-up of each reagent can have its own unique challenges for pumps. The eVmP relies on ceramic internals, no-valves, and synchronous rotation and reciprocation to keep the pumping motion simple and inert. The lack of valves and synchronous motion allow the eVmP to dispense neatly, and without drips, by creating a dynamic suck back. This can improve precious up time and keep nozzles clean, even with the most demanding isotonic buffers.

The other challenge is the unique amount or volume of each reagent. The eVmP Micro Pump can be set up to deliver nanoliter, microliter and milliliters through our patented variable metering pump system, with better than 1% accuracy and precision. The eVmP’s patented design utilizes two precision stepper motors, integrated controller and drivers, and can dynamically change dispense volume and flow rate.

Each eVmP can store up to 100 programs, and has immediate run controls that include speed, volume, and pumping direction. Advanced controls include suck-back, fine adjustment, acceleration, deceleration and linking of programs. All of the run controls are accessed through the latest in PLC and CPU communication over Ethernet/IP, or RS485. The eVmP can also be controlled from our Touch Screen Interface, up to 32 pumps with one screen.

Using a chemically inert fluid path, high accuracy and precision dispensing technology, the ability to make high resolution adjustments dynamically, and offering the latest in factory automation controls, makes the eVmP ideal for manufacturing diagnostic kits.

Isaac HD Multi-Function Leak TesterOnce the diagnostic kit is created, packaging is of the upmost importance. Creating a tight, leak proof seal is especially important when dealing with complex chemicals and precise fluid measurements. A chamber test performed on the reagent kit packaging with the Isaac HD leak tester by Zaxis will ensure quality and repeatability in the manufacturing process. For more information on leak testing for diagnostic reagent kits, CLICK HERE.

For questions please contact a sales rep via email at sales@zaxisinc.com or phone at +1 (801) 264-1000, or CLICK HERE to request a quote.

Soft Gel Manufacturing

Soft Gel Manufacturing

Accuracy and Repeatability with the Zaxis Variable Metering Pump

Modern Soft Gel Manufacturing is an incredibly long, sophisticated process, which relies on many of the electro-mechanical and chemical technologies. For many years, the encapsulation and filling of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), relied on old mechanical technologies, that no longer can keep up with the industry demands. The Zaxis eVmP pump has been the choice to replace mechanical filling methods, with a dynamic, electronically controlled, positive displacement, ceramic piston pump.

Pump Head and Gel CapsulesIn addition to being very accurate, the patented eVmP pump relies on the repeatability of sapphire hard, ceramic internals, and no valves.  These wetted path parts are designed for millions of maintenance free cycles, because they resist wear.  The repeatability and accuracy are very important in the control of API fluids, but the eVmP offered much, much more.

The Sanitary Pump Head design is made of 316SS, and is easily disassembled for cleaning, which can take place after each batch or run of product.  Once cleaned, an eVmP pump head must return to the encapsulation area quickly, and without compromise to precious downtime.

With the modular design and electronic controls, including Ethernet IP, the pump is quickly getting back to another formulation and production run. Zaxis eVmP pumps can be configured in single OEM or Dual modules, including IP45, 316SS enclosures.

For the latest in API dispensing technology, used in soft gel encapsulation, please come see us at Booth 1365 at Interphex, in NYC, April 2-4,  where you can see the eVmP in action and talk to one of our application engineers.