Evolution of Vaping Devices

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Vaping has come a long way from its humble beginnings and if you’re coming from our history of vaping article, you’re probably curious on how vaping devices have evolved since the invention of the first e-cigarette.

With the vaping industry projected to grow into a 50 billion dollar market in 2025, vaping devices are rapidly advancing to provide the ultimate vaping experience.

The Evolution of Vaping Devices

Evolution of Vaping Devices

Since the inception of the first commercially successful electronic cigarettes in 2003, vaping devices have continuously improved to become more efficient and effective. There are different types of vaping devices but generally, the advancement in vaping devices are broken down into different generations.

How do vaping devices work?

How do vaping devices work? Battery plus Atomizer plus E-liquid - Vape

Before we get into the progression of vaping, it’s important to understand how these devices work. There are two main components to vaporize e-liquid or e-juice: battery and atomizer/coil.

The battery is an essential part of the vaping device which sends electrical currents to the atomizer or coil. The atomizer/coil functions as a heating element where the electricity flows and heats the e-liquid. All vaping devices contain these two main components no matter how advanced the devices are.

First Generation (Cig-A-Like)

First Generation vaping device: Cig-a-like

When Hon Lik came out with the Ruyan e-cigarette, the device had a three-piece setup: flavor cartridge, atomizer, and battery.

With the vaping market gaining traction, Umer and Tariq Sjeikh invented a simpler device that only contained two separate pieces in 2006. This innovation was called a cartomizer and it didn’t use ultrasonic technology as the Ruyan did. The cartomizer combined the flavor cartridge and atomizer, hence the name cartomizer. It was the first e-cigarette to use a resistance wiring element wrapped around cotton.

Cig-A-Like Anatomy

First generation devices are called cig-a-likes due to the similar appearance of cigarettes. This is also where the term electronic cigarette originated. Cig-a-like are commonly found where cigarettes are sold and are used as an introductory vaping device for smokers. It also comes with a disposable or a rechargeable device which is auto-draw meaning it only produces vapor when it is inhaled.

Second Generation (Vape Pen)

Second Generation Devices: Vape Pen

The second generation vaping devices are larger than the Cig-A-Likes to increase performance power in two areas: battery and atomizer. These devices are generally called vape pens and are often used as a starter kit for people who are new to vaping. Vape pens improved upon the weaknesses of cig-a-likes and created an overall better vaping experience. There are several distinct features unique to vape pens at the time:

Anatomy of a Vape Pen
  • A button to turn the battery on/off and used as a firing mechanism. Remember, Cig-A-Likes do not have a button and are auto-fired when inhaled
  • A chip regulates how long you can hit the device to prevent overheating - usually won’t fire after 10 seconds

Another feature that wasn’t present in the cig-a-like was the invention of the clearomizer.


Anatomy of a Clearomizer
  • Clearomizer was a step up from cartomizers at the time. With a clearomizer, you can see the level of e-liquid in your tank. A unique feature for clearomizer is the silica wicking mechanism which helped deliver the e-liquid to the heating coil.
  • Top Clearomizer has long wicks hanging from the top to saturate the e-liquid in the tank.
  • Bottom Clearomizers have short wicks in the bottom and allowed for better wicking. It provided a better user experience since you can use the e-juice in your tank to the very bottom compared to the top clearomizers where the e-juice had to be touching the wick.
  • The atomizer had to be replaced after a certain amount of time depending on frequency and use. The resistance on these coils were usually around 1.5 to 2.5 Ohms

Third Generation (Mods)

Third Generation Vaping Devices: Mods

Third generation devices are known as Mods in the vaping community. Mods are short for modification and the term originates from when vapers use to modify flashlights into vaping devices. You might be asking why would you modify a flashlight? The answer is simple, more power baby! Don’t worry, they don’t look like your 3rd-grade science project!! With the cig-a-like to the vape pens, mods are an improved version which allows for more power and personalization. These devices are also called advanced personal vaping devices due to modern day technology incorporated into these devices.

Regulated Mods vs Unregulated Mods

Regulated Mods vs Unregulated Mods: What's the difference?

Before we get into the distinct features of third generation devices, it’s important to understand the difference between regulated vs unregulated mods. Both regulated and unregulated mods in third generation devices use sub-ohm coils. The term sub-ohm means that the coil uses a resistance under 1 ohm. The significance of using a sub-ohm atomizer will allow for higher wattage meaning more vapor production.

Regulated Mods:

Regulated mods have a chip that regulates the electrical current as a safety mechanism. However, anything with a battery does not guarantee 100% safety. Regulated Mods also have a variable voltage to increase and decrease power.

Unregulated Mods:

Unregulated mods do not have a chip to prevent overheating. Instead, unregulated mods are limited by the resistance of the coil and the user’s discretion. Devices that are unregulated are called mechanical mods. Mechanical mods are not for beginner vapers since it takes a working knowledge of Ohm’s law, electrical systems, and can be extremely dangerous if the battery is pushed to its limits. As you can imagine, if there is no chip to regulate the device, vapers must exercise caution when using these devices to prevent an explosion. Essentially, mech mods are metal tubes with a battery and an atomizer.

Distinct Features of 3rd generation devices

Anatomy of a Vape Mod

Here are some unique features found in Regulated Mods that are not found on previous generation devices:

  • Higher wattage means more battery capacity and more power running on your device. It also allows for longer battery life depending on what voltage it is used at. Third generation devices have either a removable battery or a built-in battery. 
  • Variable Wattage and Voltage is a feature where it allows you to regulate the amount of power the device uses depending on the resistance of your coil. Higher wattage allows for a hotter vape meaning it increase vapor production and e-liquid consumption. This innovative feature provides users with a higher degree of control to find the right vaping experience.
  • Digital Display is another feature characterized by third generation devices. Mod screens is a step towards a smarter device that provides vapers with critical information such as battery life, ohmmeter (what resistance coil the device is using), puff counter, and temperature setting.  
  • Temperature setting is an innovative feature that lets vapers set a defined temperature for a consistent vape. What this does it allows users to control the flavor intensity as well as preventing dry hits by automatically adjusting the power output to keep the coil at a consistent temperature. Temperature control only uses nickel, titanium, and stainless steel coils.
  • Sub-Ohm Tanks are used for high wattage devices. The higher the wattage, the lower resistance used. The tanks hold more e-liquid than previous generation devices and the coils used in a device can vary with different resistance. Another advancement in vaping technology to have more control over the vaping experience.
  • Airflow control is a feature that allows vapers to adjust the throat hit. It can provide vapers with the ability to increase airflows which gives a direct to lung hit whereas a tighter airflow provides for a better mouth to lung hit.

As you can see, vaping devices will continue to evolve to keep up with consumer needs. The vaping devices will become more personalized and advanced. Thanks for reading and let us know what your first vape was back in the day!

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