The Cannabis Industry’s Need for Vape Cartridge Filling Machines
As consumer behaviors continue to shift sales away from traditional categories such as flower and tinctures, and towards packaged products such as vapes, pre-rolls and edibles it’s clear that consumers are looking for more portable and convenient recreational products. Vapes in particular are popular for their portability and ease of use, reflected by sales more than doubling from $1 billion in 2018 to $2.8 billion as of November 2022.
To sustain this growth in popularity without sacrificing quality, many producers are investing in automated filling machines. If you are new to the world of vape cartridge and device filling equipment, join us as we break down the different types of filling machines along with their advantages, disadvantages, and the best use cases for each.
- Manual Cannabis Vape Cartridge Filling Machines and Equipment
- Semi-Automatic Cannabis Vape Cartridge Filling Machines
- Fully-Automatic Cannabis Vape Cartridge Filling Machines
- What Else to Consider When Shopping for a Cartridge Filling Machine
Manual Cannabis Vape Cartridge Filling Machines and Equipment
Manual vape cartridge and device filling machines are the simplest type of filling machines. They are operated by hand with tools such as syringes and heaters, and the operator is responsible for the entire filling process. These machines are inexpensive and easy to use, making them a good choice for small-scale operations. However, they are not suitable for large-scale production due to their slow production speed and reliance on manual labor.
Examples of manual filling machines:
- Manual syringe
- Handheld repeater syringe
- Multi-shot style hand dispensers
Advantages of using manual filling machines:
- Lowest equipment cost
- Easy to use
- Simple setup
- Small physical footprint
Disadvantages of using manual filling machines:
- Highest labor cost
- Slowest production speed
- Inconsistent fill volume
- Easy to damage oil with heat
- Susceptible to operator error
- Syringe lubricant can affect cartridge
- Risk of operator injury from manual labor
- High maintenance requirements
Best use cases for manual filling machines:
- Small-scale production
- Limited budget
- Non-technical operators
Semi-Automatic Cannabis Vape Cartridge Filling Machines
Semi-automatic filling machines such as the Jet Fueler are an intermediate between manual and fully-automatic filling machines. They require some manual operation by lifting the cartridge or device to the needle for dispensation, but they automate the pumping portion of the filling process. These machines are suitable for mid-scale production and offer a good balance between cost and efficiency.
Example of semi-automatic filling machines:
- Automatic recharging repeater syringe systems
- Pneumatic systems
- Syringe pump systems
Advantages of using semi-automatic filling machines:
- Faster production speed than manual filling machines
- More consistent fill volume
- More consistent heat application
- Lower labor cost than manual filling machines
Disadvantages of using semi-automatic filling machines:
- Higher equipment cost than manual filling machines
- More complex than manual filling machines
- Not suitable for large-scale production
- Operator still has to cap cartridges separately
Best use cases for semi-automatic filling machines:
- Mid-scale production
- Low to mid-range budget
- Entry level technical operators
Fully-Automatic Cannabis Vape Cartridge Filling Machines
Fully-automatic filling machines such as the Vape-Jet are the most advanced class of filling machines. They automate and control the pumping, dispensing and heating processes. Some even automate the capping process while others are designed to work with a separate capping machine. These machines offer the highest production capacity and consistency in fill volume. However, they are also the most expensive and may require specialized accessories such as hardware jigs or additional operator training. Despite the cost and additional expenses, in the long term these machines result in the lowest total cost of ownership.
Example of fully-automatic filling machines:
- Robotic assisted recharging repeater syringe systems
- Robotic assisted pneumatic systems
- Robotic assisted syringe pump systems
Advantages of using fully-automatic filling machines
- Lowest labor cost
- Highest production capacity
- Consistent and accurate fill volume
- Flexibility in handling a wide range of fill volumes and viscosities
- Increased reliability with minimal room for operator error
- Limited exposure to environmental contaminants
- Operator can multitask during filling process
Disadvantages of using fully-automatic filling machines
- Highest equipment cost
- Largest physical footprint
- Requires additional operator training
Best use cases for fully-automatic filling machines:
- Large-scale production
- Mid to high-range budget
- Experienced technical operators
What Else to Consider When Shopping for a Cartridge Filling Machine
The right filling machine can help to increase production efficiency, reduce waste, and ensure consistent and accurate fill volumes. Choosing the right machine will depend primarily on your production volume and available budget, but we encourage you to consider a few other key factors:
Some fully-automatic filling machines lock you into a limited number of cartridge and device styles you can fill without investing in physical retooling or additional custom hardware. Look for systems that can adapt to your hardware, not the other way around.
Complicated filling machines may require more complicated training and repairs. As you vet equipment manufacturers be sure to ask how they provide product support, how long you can expect to wait on replacement parts, or how quickly they can get on site support technicians to your facility should the need arise.
As states continue to pass additional regulations on the cannabis industry, it’s crucial to consider where you can implement data collection in your production process. Some fully-automatic filling machines have data reporting features built in, giving you insight into production trends as well as an additional quality management checkpoint.
A key part of the cartridge filling process is the cleaning procedure between strains or at the end of the day. Producers new to automated filling equipment often overlook the importance of this feature. Look for machines with an efficient and automated clean in place process to save on time and labor.
Still not sure what type of filling machine is right for your operation?
Contact our crew to find out if a Jet Fueler or Vape-Jet would be the right fit for you. Still growing? We offer an upgrade path from our semi-automatic to fully-automatic systems.
Think Automation is a Thing of the Future?
This article was developed by an AI copywriter. The future is now, so join the revolution or risk getting stuck in the past. If you’re ready to integrate automation into your workflow reach out to our crew with your questions to see what Vape-Jet automation solutions can do for you.
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