How to test ENDS in a modern testing laboratory

This article is a review on how to test ENDS in a modern laboratory, what tools to use and what methodologies does the vape-testing.com team use.

What is ENDS?

ENDS or electronic nicotine delivery systems are non-flammable tobacco products. E-cigarettes, vaporizers, vape pens, hookah pens, e-cigarettes, and e-pipes are some of the terms used to describe ENDS.

What are the main parameters that need to be investigated to assess the quality and stability of the product?

The Vape-testing team distinguishes the following groups:

  • Vape indicators
  • Battery, Life Cycle
  • Air system and pressure drop
  • Leaks
  • EMC, ACM, TMP

We divide quality assurance research into two levels: the Basic Level and the Advanced Level. All the parameters described above refer to the basic level. The advanced level of testing is chemical analysis for various harmful substances, such as heavy metals, vapor particle measurements, and the determination of fumes.

Let’s talk about the basic level required for any RND working in the field of product ENDS development, testing, or QC laboratory.

Steam indicators

There are 3 approaches for steam testing: organoleptic, visual inspection, or optical analytical systems.

We use all 3 but prefer to test the indicators using a vaping machine with an optical vapor sensor. The operation principle of the sensor is based on the analysis of the optical transparency of steam in a special chamber.

Since the vapor is very patchy, we can make measurements in comparative tests, getting the exemplary result that we can focus on in further studies.

What do the organoleptic vape indicators show us?

The taste characteristics of the vapor are the most accurate analysis method. We can visually estimate the vapor density. This method is not accurate when it comes to testing the product before launching into mass production because it is influenced by too many factors. It depends on the psychophysical state of a person, as well as his experience, which can cause errors.

We can also evaluate throat hits and bitterness in the testing process that is not available for any existing equipment on the market now. We can say that we are working in this direction.

Preparing the device for testing on the HAVC machine

Preparing the device for testing on the HAVC machine

Mechanical tests using a vaping machine do not allow evaluating the taste characteristics, but it is possible to track the stability of the device well.

These tests determine how the device is configured, what happens if it is used for a long time, how the vape changes from session to session. 

In mass production, this is very important for evaluating the product and also to understand what experience the future buyer of this device will have.

Organoleptic and visual tests are good in the early stages of development or prototyping, but when it comes to a large number of tests, QC in production can not do without automation.

Battery testing

We distinguish two groups in battery testing equipment. The first is an automatic battery testing center on the technical characteristics. It is widely used in production. The second is the use of a vaping machine to test the battery life cycle.

The first method shows well the actual performance of the battery, its heat output, volume, degradation, and other technical indicators that determine the quality of a battery.

Based on the data, we can deduce the approximate number of puffs that the batteries handle. But since ENDS is a complex mechanism, these indicators are often very different from the real ones.

Test results are saved to the archive with reports

Test results are saved to the archive with reports

The method of using a vaping machine with an automatic cut-off on the steam level gives very accurate data with a 3 puff error (this is the number of puffs at which the machine stops testing). At the same time, we immediately simulate all the conditions that will occur with the device during operation. Regardless of what power, vaping tightness, whether leaks or other changes occur, we see exactly how many cycles a battery handles. At the same time, we specify the required shutdown threshold, it happens automatically and we can change the scenario that includes the number of pauses between sessions, etc.

The data obtained is automatically recorded in the report and is very convenient to analyze the results.

Thanks to all the third-party testing, we can tell exactly what the battery life cycle is, regardless of external and internal factors.

Air system

Of course, one of the most important things in steam generation is the air system. The way it is designed, manufactured, and operated affects the final quality of the product.

To test this indicator, a visual inspection is used, but this requires a high level of expertise and understanding of the internal structure.  The measurement of the tightening force, the stability of which indicates the correct operation of the device, is measured by a vaping machine with a pressure sensor.

You can determine the future characteristics of the device, for example, a light or a tight puff, and adjust it to the necessary parameters.

Naturally, the analysis of the air indicators of devices in dynamics shows us what internal processes occur inside the device during the entire life cycle.

Leaks

The parameters that we are considering here have several features.

The first feature is liquid leakage during transportation or storage. The second is the liquid spitting during the puff.

Leaks are very easy to identify by simulating the environment around the device using a vacuum chamber and a shaker with a variable vibration amplitude. Determining the cause of such a leak is much more difficult than identifying it. To find this, sometimes you have to use all the experience and tools that are available in the laboratory.

Spitting during a puff is easy to identify with organoleptic, but for industrial tests, it is necessary to connect the indicator to the vaping machine. This will eliminate the human factor.

EMC, ACM, TMP

The number of particles in the vapor during the puff. This topic is very extensive and we will cover it in our next articles. We have automated this process as much as possible. High-precision puffs on the vaping machine and weighing, automatic recording of results in a report will reduce the duration of these tests by 10 times. This is what we call the baseline.

In the next articles, we’ll cover the advanced testing level. Subscribe to our blog to not miss out on it.

Test results are saved to the archive with reports

Test results are saved to the archive with reports

ACM measurement process

ACM measurement process

As an output 

At a basic level, you can test ENDS in sufficient detail by understanding what processes occur with it during its life cycle. Quickly react to problems and successfully fix them if there are any. Or make sure that the manufactured or purchased goods work stably, made of high quality, and will convey to the end-users the properties that were incorporated into the product. 

By making vaping experience nicer and safer, which is also our mission. Visit our website, leave comments, and feel free to ask questions via email. If you click here, you can also get a special offer for our testing services.

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