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MJBizCon 2021: Vape-Jet Has Entered the Game

Two years ago our exec team showed up to MJBizCon 2019 in our signature hoodies with brochures in their pockets and high hopes. They networked while walking the expo floor and met with potential partners and customers offsite to establish working relationships and promote the only machine we had in production at that time; the Vape-Jet 2.0 fully-automatic filling machine.


Fast forward two years through a vaping crisis and a global pandemic to MJBizCon 2021. This year our team arrived on the expo floor with a dedicated booth, a new semi-automatic filling machine (Jet Fueler 2.0), an upgraded fully-automatic filling machine (Vape-Jet 3.0), a brand new automatic capping machine (Squish-o-Matic 1000), and our same signature hoodies. (Plus a few gold doge coins in our pockets.)

Vape-Jet Exec Team 2019 and 2021: Brian Kuo – CFO, Ryan Hoitt – CEO, Devon Reid – COO
Standard Currency at Vape-Jet

This year our crew was able to connect with hundreds of attendees looking for affordable automation solutions in the face of a nationwide labor shortage, economic inflation, and supply chain disruptions. Those we spoke to were looking for solutions to their production challenges that provided low labor costs, increased workflow efficiency, and allowed them to adapt to different cartridge types as the availability of their usual hardware has become less reliable in recent months. At Vape-Jet we pride ourselves on our ability to innovate, adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of our customers. All traits that have become increasingly important during a period where “unprecedented times” have become the norm.

Devon Reid Talking Through the Benefits of the Machine Vision Feature of the Vape-Jet Fully-Automatic Filling Machine
Vape-Jet Booth and a Visit from Nate with N.B.Oler

As we’ve grown as a company, we’ve expanded our network of partners.

Amongst these are brands like Arcane Aromatics, a new-to-market supplier offering botanical terpene blends, hemp botanical extracts, and hemp + botanical terpene blends available at prices you won’t find elsewhere. If you visited our booth at the convention, you likely would have picked up on the scent of Arcane’s samples before you even saw our team as these aromatic creations were impossible to miss. Visit ArcaneAromatics.com to learn more about their pre-launch catalog and get early access to their product line. (Pro Tip: Arcane offers partner pricing for current and new Vape-Jet customers for orders of 60mL through 1L.)

Grant of Arcane Aromatics Discussing Their Pre-Launch Catalog
A Peek at Arcane Aromatics’ Botanical Terpene Blends

Also on display at MJBizCon were products from Advanced Vapor Devices (AVD) who produce a variety of the highest quality vape hardware. All AVD products work seamlessly with the Vape-Jet and Jet Fueler filling machines, as well as the Squish-o-Matic 1000 capping machine. For oil brands and processors AVD offers a test hardware kit that includes cartridges, disposables and batteries at no cost. Learn more at AVD710.com.

Vape-Jet 3.0 Demoing Dry Runs with AVD Cartridges
The AVD Social Media Team Stopped by for a Quick Interview with CEO Ryan Hoitt

Another excellent hardware manufacturing partner present on the expo floor was the team at BeGreen Supply. They offer custom engineered and branded cannabis hardware and packaging solutions that can be filled with our automatic filling machines. BeGreen shares the Vape-Jet perspective that your brand “deserves the ability to react to shifts in market and customer demand” and offer custom branded hardware in 30 days or less allowing production to stay agile and flexible. Learn more at BeGreenSupply.com

The Jet Fueler 2.0 and a Variety of Compatible Cartridges Including BeGreen Supply

In addition to our partners in manufacturing and suppliers our team met with several current customers who had great feedback on their experience with our products. Recently our customer Alex of Dime Industries (CA) told us “The Jet Fueler speaks for itself. There’s not another machine on the market that will last a million fills with no maintenance.”

The Jet Fueler 2.0 Demo Unit on Display
A Variety of Compatible Cartridges by AVD, Ilo and More

If you stopped by our booth during the show you may have met another one of our customers, James of Natural Roots Extracts (OR) who remains one of our most loyal customers having used every variation of our machines from Vape-Jet 1.0 and Jet Fueler 1.0 up to our latest iterations. He was also one of the original test users of our new automatic capping machine and is credited with coming up with the official name, Squish-o-Matic 1000. James recently said “The Vape-Jet 3.0 has really blown my mind. The improvement to our workflow has been literally life-changing.” We’re glad he was able to attend the show and share his experience and expertise with anyone interested in our filling and capping solutions.

James of Natural Roots Extracts Discussing Cartridge Styles
James’ Vape-Jet 3.0 Unit Performing Dry Runs During the Show

All in all MJBizCon 2021 was a major success for the Vape-Jet team and a clear reflection of how far we have grown since hitting the expo floor in 2019. Thank you to everyone on the team who made this show possible. We’ll see you all again in 2022!

The Vape-Jet Booth
Brian Kuo – CFO, Ryan Hoitt – CEO, Sawyer Sheppard – Sales Rep
Two Legends Meet: Tommy Chong and Brian Kuo
Squish-o-Matic 1000 on Display
Until next year!
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Uncategorized

Open Jobs

Manufacturing Technician I

We’re looking for a Manufacturing Technician to add to our fast-growing team! You will be responsible for building state-of-the-art robotic systems under supervision.

This position will report directly to the Director of Operations. The preferred candidate must have a desire to learn new technologies and adapt to rapidly changing processes. This is a wonderful opportunity to grow with a fast-moving startup that deploys robotics and machine vision to the cannabis industry. Please visit Vape-Jet.com and click on the “Team” tab to learn more about the team before applying. On-the-job training will be provided.

This position will require work to be done in-person at our manufacturing facility in Tigard.

Founded in 2019, Vape-Jet is an automation technology company in Tigard, OR, in the exciting world of ancillary cannabis solutions. Specifically, we manufacture automation machines and create software that automates filling for cartridges and other devices. To get a feel for our team and technology, check out: https://vape-jet.com/about/ . We are #startuplyfe, but we are kicking butt, and want someone to come join us to kick even more butt.

Responsibilities:

● Assemble electrical and mechanical components under the direction of the Director of Operations.

● Provide general shop assistance, including administrative tasks.

● Operate and maintain production equipment (3D printers and CNC mills).

● Restocking components, cleaning, and organizing production areas.

● Maintain inventory logs and perform shipping and receiving activities.

Qualifications:

● Excellent communication skills.

● Strong attention to detail and note taking required.

● Team-oriented with the ability to work independently as needed.

● Effective hand-tool (occasional power tools) usage and the ability to follow written and verbal instructions.

● The ability to stand for long periods of time and occasionally lift 50 pounds.

● Computer literacy including Windows OS and Office Suite (JIRA, Odoo/ERP familiarity is a plus).

● Previous electronics wiring experience desired.

Pay Rate/Method:

● 100% coverage for basic health benefits/dental (this is unheard of for a start-up…please take note that we take care of our people)

● Simple IRA with 3% matching (also unheard of for startup companies! Notice a trend?)

● 10 days paid vacation and paid holidays

● Flexible schedules (as long as clients are taken care of)

● Bi-weekly production bonus pool after 60 days.

● 4×10 schedule available after training if desired.

● Occasional cat memes

Categories
Uncategorized Vape Hardware

Vape Cartridges: History & Future of Cannabis Vaping

Vaping has been around for longer than you think, and its use case has morphed drastically from decreasing nicotine consumption to indulging in cannabis products. As the hysteria caused by the lack of facts and misinformation from the recent EVALI crisis subsides – vape cartridges are slated for increased demand as the cannabis industry continues to rev its powerful engine.

What does the inside of a vape cartridge look like?

There’s no better time than now to incorporate industry-leading automated concentrate cartridge filling technology to reap the benefits of tomorrow

Before making your mark on the future of vaping, it’s important to learn about its past. So, here, we’ll catch you up on the history of cannabis vaping, including the answer to the question, when were weed carts invented? and when they were improved upon, too. 

Read along to learn more and understand how to scale up your vape cartridge production process to effectively reduce overhead and increase revenue while improving consumer safety and quality control.

The History Of Vape Pens and Who Invented Them

Joseph Robinson created the first electronic vapes in the 1930s, long before there were vape carts as we know them today. Although it’s unknown whether he created a prototype, he is credited as the first person to come up with the idea.

From that point onward, many iterations of vaping devices came and went. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that vaping became a commercial success, thanks to the invention of the vape cartridge. However, all of these products were geared towards nicotine consumption in the form of e-cigarettes, neglecting the burgeoning market for cannabis oil and THC oil [1]

As we fast-forward through time, vaping became a rapidly rising trend as of 2011, with over 7 million users. It’s since ballooned to over 41 million users as of 2018. [2]

It’s likely that the dramatic rise in use is the culmination of new and more reliable vape products and the convenience of the vape cartridge as a consumption device. Vape devices are unmatched in consumer preference when it comes to form-factor and ease of use.

Modern-Day Inventions of Cannabis Vaping Devices

Currently, oil cartridges can be filled with any type, whether it’s THC, CBD, or nicotine-based. These extracts should be produced according to regulations that demand safe production practices and ingredients. However, taking short cuts during the product formulation stage can have disastrous consequences, as the recent EVALI crisis demonstrated.

Aside from the vape oil itself, vaping hardware and filling techniques are the most widely scrutinized aspects of vape cartridges. The reason behind this is the prevalence of the black market, which continues to distribute faulty and ill-equipped vaping cartridges, or utilize filling processes that expose the oil to toxic materials. Poor handling techniques during the filling process can lead to product contamination, illness, and, in severe cases, injury and death.

The vaping scandal of 2019 was the result of the black market selling tainted THC cartridges, which are widely believed to be the compound vitamin E acetate, a significant health risk when inhaled. Vitamin E was used to ‘cut’ the THC distillate, reducing the potency and reducing production costs. [3]

Since the EVALI crisis, the FDA and federal regulators have tightened their grip on the vaping industry, which means everything if your business incorporates or produces vape products.

Vaporizers and the Cannabis Community: A Growing Demand Despite Hesitations

According to Grand View Research, a leading market analysis group, the vape industry will reach over $67 billion by 2027.

Global Vape Cartridge Users by Year
The vape industry, which is tied with both the tobacco and cannabis industry, is currently worth $12 billion as of 2019. Source: Euromonitor International via BBC

While the EVALI health crisis caused a public perception hit to the perceived safety of the vape cartridge, it is a good idea to remember why consumers chose them in the first place. Even though personal vaporizer devices for nicotine consumption list health and safety as their primary motivating factors in purchasing decisions, those consumers consuming cannabis and hemp-derived products overwhelmingly select them for convenience and form factor, not perceived health effects.

In fact, companies in the cannabis vape tech space, like KandyPens and Dr. Dabber, recorded between 350 and 500 percent growth in 2017. [6] Even more, former Apple product developers and Silicon Valley types are credited with launching some of the highest-tech and most successful vape devices on the cannabis market today. [7]

As consumer confidence rebounds and proper QA techniques are adopted, the potential is sky-high for your vape-based businesses.

What Is A 510 Thread Cartridge?

If you’re now wondering, when did cannabis carts become popular? It’s around the time 510 thread cartridges launched in legal markets. So, for the industry newbies, next let’s answer the question: What is a 510 thread cartridge exactly? 

A 510-threaded cartridge is a universal vapor product that’s filled with cannabis oil. When attached to a vape battery, and powered on or activated by draw, the oil is heated and inhaled by the consumer. 

In today’s world of weed, 510 thread cartridges are available in .5 gram and 1 gram and are viable vestibules for a wide variety of extract types from distillate, to live resin and rosin.

The Future of the Vape Market & What Does This Mean for Your Business?

With increased regulations and rapidly rising demand, your vape business is looking towards a crossroads. How will you incorporate heightened quality control checks while managing the pressure of increasing demand?

The answer lies in consolidation and scalability. However, the idea of revamping your entire production process may sound daunting and, quite frankly, difficult to incorporate.

However, consolidation and scalability are accomplished with the help of automation. Automation can take many forms, but typically, when we think of automation, we think of production and manufacturing devices such as the Vape Jet automatic distillate cartridge filling machine.

The process of filling and checking the quality of cartridges is incredibly time-consuming when done manually. However, automated systems, such as the Vape-Jet, incorporate a pharmaceutical-grade fluid handling system and advanced machine vision alignment capabilities.

With the use of an automated vape cartridge filler, multiple tasks are accomplished effectively and up to regulatory standards. By using a cartridge filler for CO2, rosin, or distillate, your business can quickly consolidate resources and scale according to the demands of the market.

No longer will your business suffer from the love-hate relationship of increased demand. Instead, an industrial vape pod filler  will streamline the production process while simultaneously ensuring quality control and the integrity of vapor products.

Vape Cartridge Users Projections
Source: Grand View Research

The Future of Cannabis: Reduce Your Cartridge Production Overhead Through Automation

If you have yet to incorporate automation into your vape business, you’re likely paying more than you have to. Without automation, your payroll is dedicated to individuals who are hard-capped as to the number of vape pods they can fill per day.

Automation opens the horizon to thousands of carts filled per day in comparison. This means that you’ll never miss out on a large order because you aren’t producing at scale. Instead, your clients will never lose confidence in your company’s ability to generate any amount of vape cartridges at any time, ensuring a consistent supply for consumers looking to vaporize.

The result of producing products at scale is that you’ll never miss a profitable opportunity. Furthermore, your overhead will plummet as you incorporate automation into your oil cartridge filling process.

Let’s take a look at how your business can reduce overhead while increasing revenue with Vape Jet.

  • Reduce labor cost
  • Increase production of vape cartridges
  • Decrease the cost of each cartridge
  • Reduce overall operational cost
  • Decrease the number of wasted cartridges
  • Find defective cartridges before the filling process

As you can see, the Vape Jet system single-handedly reduces the need for a large workforce while simultaneously increasing output. Overall, the Vape Jet system consolidates your entire vape cartridge filling workforce under a single automated machine. In other words, pure efficiency.

Distillate Vape Cartridges
Distillate Vape Cartridges from Highland Provisions filled with Vape-Jet

Further Reading

Categories
Uncategorized Vape Hardware

Vape Hardware Safety Concerns for Your Business

Beginning in June 2019, doctors in a small city of Wisconsin noticed a sudden rise in lung-related illnesses. Each of the cases was similar, yet they did not follow the same path of other documented lung illnesses, such as pneumonia. This was something new – and they were right.

Vape Cartridges and Cannabis Extracts

After 54 deaths and over 2,400 people sent to the hospital, federal authorities and researchers honed in on the culprit – vitamin E acetate.(1) More importantly, it was found that this compound tested positive in illicit THC vape products that were purchased on the street or via online shops.

The vape industry for cannabis and tobacco products came to a screeching halt. What was once a multi-billion dollar sector was now poised for a complete collapse as legislators and lawmakers began pointing fingers as the vape scare raged on.

However, once the CDC pinpointed the cause of the outbreak and concluded that illicit manufacturers were to blame, the vape industry is experiencing a rise to its former heights – and beyond.

However, the latest vape scare came with a price. The industry must collectively change to ensure compliance with state and federal regulators. Aside from the vape product itself, vape hardware must change to keep consumers safe and to keep your business out of the iron-sights of regulators.

If you own a cannabis extraction facility or manage a vape production facility – read along.

Get Your Cartridges Tested

Testing THC vape carts for heavy metal contaminants such as lead.

There’s no better time than now to get your cartridges tested to ensure that your vape company remains in compliance with regulations. Unless your business has the capacity to do quality control checks in-house, then you’ll need the help of a third-party to ensure your cartridges are free of contaminants and are faultless. 

Not only does it mean a better and safer experience for the end-user, but it also reduces the instance of returns/recalls. By reducing the rate of returns, your business will turn a quicker profit.
The balance of regulation, client satisfaction, and consumer safety is met by having your cartridges tested.

Enhance Quality Control Measures

Quality control is beyond necessary across every manufacturing channel. From the tiniest screw to an intricate piece of hardware – everything must undergo a safety test that meets specific standards.

The standards for the vape industry are continuously changing, however, regulators all agree that they want to ensure that vape manufacturers are producing clean cannabis extracts without additives into cartridges that work.

There have been many instances where vape cartridges break, leak, or overheat prematurely. The time is now to step up your cartridge safety before you’re forced to.

Upgrade Your Vape Cartridge Hardware

Vape Cartridges and Pods Filled with Oil

The vape scare left many consumers and regulators on the edge of their seats. Although the vast majority of vape products were legitimate and untainted by vitamin E acetate – the damage was done.

Upgrading your vape products with enhanced hardware is an incredible way to recapture the confidence that so many vape companies once enjoyed. As a business owner or manager of a cannabis extraction facility, you want to ensure your product is enjoyed safely and carried by legal marijuana dispensaries.

If consumers are weary of your product because they contain “old” parts, then you may see a drastic drop in sales. Any business-minded individual knows that change is necessary, and we’re currently in a transitional phase.

Switch to Tamper-Proof Mouthpieces

Aside from keeping your clients happy and the end-user absolutely safe – what about from a legal standpoint?

The revelation from the CDC spurred the FDA to come down hard on all vape companies – not just those related to cannabis.

One of the most notable changes from the FDA is that from this point on, all vape companies must comply with preventing access by minors. (2)

If you’re wondering how you can prevent minors from accessing vape cartridges filled with potent THC, it’s through the use of press-fit mouthpieces that are entirely tamper-proof. The overall vape industry is quickly moving away from twist-top mouthpieces and transitioning to the press-fit design because it prevents content exposure.

Once a manufacturer installs the press-fit mouthpiece, the end-user cannot remove it. This is seen as a child-safe and tamper-proof method that complies entirely with the wishes of the FDA.

Furthermore, this method stops end-users from removing the mouthpiece easily to add additional ingredients into the vape product. In other words, the press-fit design is a protective measure for end-users and for your business.

The last thing your cannabis extraction or vape company needs is a sudden report that your product made someone sick – although they added additional “flavorings” to the cannabis extract.

The Success of Your Business Relies on Compliance

Compliance is essential to a successful vape cartridge company.

Ultimately, the vape scare has changed the cannabis extraction and vape industry forever. Some may argue that it was better before; however, the end result is a focus on consumer safety.

Overall, upgrading your vape hardware should be seen in a positive light because it only adds to your company’s value. Legal cannabis dispensaries were also affected by the vape scare heavily. Therefore, it only makes sense that they will want to only carry safe, reliable, and high-quality vape cartridges that are made from compliant hardware.

With the help of a few uncomplicated hardware upgrades for your cannabis or vape business, you’ll find success quickly by staying ahead of the curve.

Categories
Uncategorized Vape Hardware

Why are There so Many People?

It was 2016 when I found myself walking through a cannabis extraction lab. It was my first experience behind the scenes of the nascent legal cannabis industry, and I vividly recall my intense fascination surrounding the inner workings of this new world.

The science and technical aspects of the production process captivated me. The extraction company finished giving me their grand tour, and I’ll admit, I was left in a daze after all that I had seen. Of course, this made them even more proud of what they had accomplished.

However, remembering the purpose for my visit, I rose to my position and asked

“Why are there so many people working on filling these cartridges?”

Aside from the myriad of otherworldly devices that move concentrated liquid from one container to another, I noticed the multitude of workers doing the same monotonous job. Countless individuals were filling cartridges with a cannabis concentrate. Peering at each of them, you could see many different attitudes – some of which were making jokes while others looked entirely frustrated.

It was at that moment that I realized there was a glaring problem with this cannabis extraction facility. It was my job to find inefficiencies – and find them I did. My mind began to race, and I saw clearly that the nascent legal cannabis industry was still experiencing crucial growing pains. How could a multi-billion dollar industry even allow a handful of employees to hand-fill cartridges?

Immediately, I resolved that, as an individual that strives to create efficiency, that automation was the key. Without it, cannabis extraction facilities like this would be left behind as others would implement it.

It was from that moment that automation in the cannabis industry became my primary focal point.

The main idea behind automation is to increase efficiency while reducing manual labor time. Although it sounds simple, many companies in the legal cannabis sector have yet to implement it.

Filling cartridges by hand is highly difficult and incredibly expensive. It costs roughly $31,200 for a yearly employee that makes $15 per hour. Once you add payroll taxes (6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare), the total jumps to $33,586.80.

However, compare that to an automated cartridge filler, such as the Vape-Jet, which can fill approximately 4000 carts per day. Compared to an individual using a hand-held filler can reasonably fill just 1000 per day.

Yearly, the Vape-Jet can produce approximately 1,040,000 cartridges. An employee filling cartridges by hand can only complete 260,000 per year. This equates to a per cart cost of $0.002 for the Vape-Jet, versus $0.13 for human labor. That is a $0.12 cost per cart! The number of carts to breakeven here is approximately 250,000, and the return on investment is reached within 65 days.

In the case of the Vape-Jet, scalability is possible as well. A single person could reasonably operate up to 5 Vape-Jet automatic cartridge filling machines at once. Whereas with human labor, the scale is linear. This creates another problem, as many of the current solutions require a single operator working a single machine.

In the case of the Vape-Jet, due to its machine vision technology, the company employing a Vape-Jet can take the foam trays that cartridges are shipped in, and then directly put them on the machine. Other devices use jigs that need to be loaded, requiring human labor to remove each cartridge and put them in the jig. These are then removed from the jig and put back into the foam trays for safe transportation.

As you can see, this method is far less streamlined when compared to the Vape-Jet.

The primary consideration is the cost when deciding on manual labor or automated cartridge fillers.

In some cases, such as small companies, hand-filling is still optimal. However, as a company begins to grow, it’s far better to implement efficient operations sooner rather than later. However, industrial-size cannabis extraction facilities will increase their efficiency exponentially by utilizing an automated cartridge filler, such as the Vape-Jet.

Other key considerations are:

  • Quality Assurance and Quality Control: Our auto-cartridge filler can sense if the cartridge is defective.
  • Decrease Injury: Repetitive stress from hand filling can occur and does not when utilizing an auto-cartridge filler.
  • Reduce Damage to the Product: Hand-held cartridge fillers with high-heat can cause damage to the final product.
  • Reduce Down Time: Automated cartridge fillers do not experience downtime due to sickness or holiday.

As the cannabis industry matures, so will the technology that provides the backbone of the production process.

Automation in cartridge filling is the first step towards more efficiency, cost-savings, and quality standards.  For more information on automation technology for cartridge filling and the future of automation innovations – drop us a line.

Categories
Uncategorized Vape Hardware

Quality Assurance Considerations

The design and operating conditions of Vape-Jet 3.0 enable the reliable manufacture of high-quality vaporization cartridges which maintain the intended cannabinoid and terpene profiles until the point of consumption. No other automated filling solution has the degrees of freedom necessary to control dispensing accuracy whilst simultaneously preserving product integrity and quality.

Overview: Fluid Dynamics and Thermal Degradation

The problem of fluid dynamics is the primary obstacle to reliably filling a vaporization cartridge. The dynamics of cannabis derived fluids varies greatly from highly viscous to free-flowing, with every possibility in between depending primarily upon the concentration of cannabinoids (THC, CBD) relative to terpenes (linalool, myrcene, etc.). Fluid viscosity generally decreases with increasing temperature, and increases with decreasing temperature; i.e. warm fluids flow more easily than cool fluids.

The problem of thermal degradation is often an afterthought in the task of filling vaporization cartridges. Both cannabinoids and terpenes are susceptible to thermal degradation, with terpenes being especially vulnerable to heat in the presence of oxygen. McGraw, Hemingway, et al reported in a 1999 study of terpene thermal degradation that 23-37% of α-pinene is destroyed at temperatures between 90-120C, other terpenes exhibited degradation of as little as 7% or as much as 100% under the same conditions. Coffman and Gentner reported that THC degradation of 8-14% occurs at temperatures above 85C, with similar figures for CBD degradation; the result is a dramatically increased proportion of CBN, the oxidized product. By comparison, THC degradation at 65C resulted in only 3.4% loss, or 159% less degradation than 85C, or 300% less degradation than 105C.

Profile Preservation

The desire for ever increasing throughput has resulted in the adoption of extreme operating conditions by competing vaporization cartridge filling solutions. Competitors routinely make claims of filling 100 cartridges in as little as 2-5 minutes, which is completely achievable with operating temperatures in the neighborhood of 90C-120C. However, as has been illustrated, these temperatures will invariably result in thermal degradation of both cannabinoids and terpenes, resulting in a not-true-to-strain effect for the end user of vaporization cartridges filled in this manner. Not only is the profile different from the originating whole flower, the batch-to-batch and inter-batch variability will also be higher since these extreme temperatures create time-dependent changes in the overall profile. For example, the cartridges filled at Time-0 at 90C will be substantially different than the cartridges filled at the end of that batch.

Vape-Jet is designed to maintain strain specific profiles of cannabinoids and terpenes, whilst striking a balance in throughput via increased automation and gentler operating conditions. Vape-Jet is able to operate at 50C-70C due to the utilization of pressurized Modified Atmosphere Processing (MAP) techniques. With the assistance of pressurized nitrogen, mixed cannabinoids and terpenes are able to be accurately dispensed into vaporization cartridges with significantly reduced thermal degradation and oxidation products. The pressurized product line results in a modified fluid dynamic system, enabling reduced heating to create flow from reservoir to cartridge.

Quality Control and Assurance

The reduced operating temperature of Vape-Jet has the added manufacturing benefit of decreased cartridge leakage, since the product cools immediately upon filling, the atomizer doesn’t become over-saturated before the cap can be installed. Together with pre-fill inspection, Vape-Jet provides unrivaled reduction in waste and batchwise variability. Cartridges filled with Vape-Jet are more true to strain for the end user than any cartridge filled by a competing device. The filling accuracy of Vape-Jet, both in terms of quantity and quality, is unrivaled and assures that the customer receives exactly what was purchased, no more or less.

References:

G.W. McGraw, R.W. Hemingway, et al. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Thermal Degradation of Terpenes: Camphene, Δ-Carene, Limonene, and α-Terpinene. Retrieved from: https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/1366

C.B. Coffman, W.A. Gentner. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Cannabis Sativa L.: Effect of Drying Time and Temperature on Cannabinoid Profile of Stored Leaf Tissue. Retrieved from: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/bulletin/bulletin_1974-01-01_1_page006.html

Categories
Laboratory Uncategorized

Laboratory Technique – Rotary Evaporator Optimization

This article explains the general process to achieve the maximum possible solvent recovery rate from any rotary evaporator.

Introduction

Rotary evaporation is a powerful technique for quickly removing solvent from a solution of cannabis or hemp extract. There are two distinct methods of operating a rotary evaporator: batch or continuous; choosing the correct one for the task is crucial. For the purposes typically required in the cannabis industry, i.e. winterization or color remediation of extracts, the necessary volume of solvent to be recovered invariably necessitates a continuous style of operation for rotary evaporators. Not only can solvent recovery rates be increased by 2-4x with this mode of operation, but overall throughput is increased as well since vacuum is maintained until the rotary flask (or solvent recovery flask) is ready to be emptied. 

Continuous Operation

In order to achieve the highest possible solvent recovery rate, several individual rates of the rotary evaporation process must be tuned to match or complement each other. The defining characteristic of continuous operation is the slow and constant addition of fresh solution into the rotary flask. Only as much solvent as can be evaporated and condensed should be added to the rotary flask per unit of time. In other words, the volume solvent dripping off the condenser should be equal to the volume of solvent containing solution dripping into the rotary flask.

Important Constants:

  1. Heat – the water bath provides heat to the evaporating surface of the rotary flask. Having enough hot water to cover a large area of the rotary flask is essential.
  2. Vacuum – the vacuum in the system can be thought of as essentially constant if the pump is of sufficient capacity. Having a large enough vacuum pump is vital.
  3. Cold – the condenser removes heat from the vapor and forces it to drip into the collection flask. Having a high cooling capacity is the most important factor.

These important constants are listed in order of increasing difficulty and cost to achieve. Heating water is a very easy and low cost part of the system, the vacuum pump is more specialized but relatively simple, while the refrigeration unit is the most complex and costly component. Having insufficient cooling capacity will dramatically decrease the maximum rate of solvent recovery possible from any rotary evaporation system.

The greater the difference in temperature (ΔT) between the hot (evaporation) and cold (condensation) sides of the system, the faster the solvent can be recovered.  

Ideally, the refrigeration unit of the rotary evaporator system will be large enough so that ΔT behaves as a constant during operation at maximum recovery; in reality, the refrigeration fluid will become hotter as evaporation and condensation begin, until it settles at its operating temperature. As the proportion of extract in the boiling flask increases and solvent decreases, the rate of evaporation will also decrease, resulting in a lower refrigerant temperature.

Important Rates:

Keeping the constants in mind, there are several factors which must be tuned in order to achieve maximum recovery. The ΔT for each system is unique and largely dependent upon the refrigeration unit, tuning the following rates to keep ΔT from changing is the essence of continuous operation of a rotary evaporator.

  1. Rotation – the rate at which solution is exposed to warm surface area to evaporate.
  2. Feed – the rate of addition of fresh solution into the boiling flask, limited by the rate of Evaporation. 
  3. Evaporation – how fast solvent transforms from liquid to gas, determined as a function of Rotation and Feed, in combination with Heat and Vacuum.
  4. Condensation – how fast solvent transforms from gas to liquid, determined as a function of Cooling and Vacuum.

In order to achieve maximum solvent recovery, the operator must tune Rotation and Feed rates such that Evaporation and Condensation rates become equal with the highest possible ΔT.

Example

  1. Attach a length of food-grade tubing to both sides of the Feed Valve.
    1. The rotary flask side of tubing should extend beyond the neck and slightly down the bulb, this reduces splash.
    2. The external side of tubing should be long enough to reach the bottom of the beaker or flask that contains your solution of extract and solvent (i.e. ethanol).
    3. Let your solution come to room temperature prior to solvent recovery, if possible. 
  2. Heat the water bath to at least 60C.
    1. Ensure there is enough water to come up almost to the level of the rotary flask neck, covering 30-40% of the flask when fully lowered.
  3. Turn on the refrigeration unit to its lowest possible setting, below 0C is ideal.
  4. Turn on the vacuum pump.
  5. Set flask rotation to about 100 revolutions per minute (RPM).
  6. Once the refrigerator and vacuum are as low as they can be, flask rotating, and with the external tubing in your solution containing beaker, slowly open the Feed Valve.
    1. Adjust feed valve to a very fine trickle, such that a band of extract forms immediately on the inner surface of the rotating flask.
    2. If a puddle forms or grows within the first few minutes, close the Feed Valve slightly.
    3. A puddle of extract rich solution will begin to form after several minutes, adjust RPM as needed to keep the puddle at the bottom of the flask.
    4. If the puddle is too rich in extract, the Feed Rate can be increased; if the puddle is too rich in solvent, decrease the Feed Rate.
  7. Monitor the refrigerator temperature throughout and adjust the Feed Valve accordingly, i.e. reduce Feed if temperature increases.
  8. Once the rotary flask approaches 30-50% full of extract rich solution, the Recovery Rate will decrease.
    1. Close Feed Valve to reduce chance of boil over, and continue rotary evaporation on the solution in the rotary flask until the desired level of completion.
  9. Remove and collect the extract from the rotary flask as normal with heat, gravity, and silicone scrapers.