ENDS: Predictions for 2014

ENDS, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, have really broken out this year. Some predictions seem in order for next year. If only to turn out wrong, predicting the future is an enjoyable exercise, considering how large systems will proceed based on limited information.

My main thought for 2014 comes from the trends over 2013 and earlier. 2013 has seen variable airflow control. Variable wattage and voltage were earlier developments.

Some have said variable juice flow will be coming, and I think that’s a good prediction. The main hurdle there is the differences in viscosity between different juices. Different mechanisms may perform differently at different viscosities, and different viscosities may perform differently at different flow levels. As far as I know there isn’t much data on the latter, and no data on the former, at least not in this realm/for this use.

But I believe variable resistance will also become available. The ability to change resistance on the fly may seem complicated at first, but it’s actually rather simple. The device can have fixed leads that move along the resistance element, and wherever they contact, however much resistance material they cover, defines the resistance.

This may mean non-wire resistance elements (eg, preformed or molded shapes with fixed resistance-per-millimeter and surface area) or a self-coiling feed mechanism (such that wire would be shaped into a coil as fed through the device), or maybe even both.

Non-wire elements may catch on now or later. What form they take may vary. For example, they might have stamped wicking slots, or may be designed to be surrounded by wicks/wicking material. Wicking slots may double as resistance stops: places that the leads may lock onto the element.

Depending on the direction that variable juice flow takes, wickless may also be possible with channels in the resistance material (either capillary effect or gravity-fed).

Wire-feed elements seem like a strong candidate as well. Wire already exists in a variety of gauges, and there is some existing know-how for feeding wire through a system. The main obstacle here seems the wicking of the auto-coiled wire. The wick will probably need a separate, integrated feed system.

Being able to vary resistance will be useful for a few reasons:

  1. Widens the types of devices that can be “rebuildable” without meaning they have to be of footprints that make it easy to manually rebuild.
  2. Augments the benefits of variable juice flow designs, possibly with a tandem control (ie, only certain flows will be available at certain resistances).
  3. Aids in safety/compatibility (eg, some devices only accept resistances above a certain level, while certain batteries are only rated to output a certain amperage).

As all of the various factors of electronically vaporized nicotine become variable, new understandings of the entire system will develop. Once you have control over airflow, power, juice, and resistance, you can likely find certain cross-tolerances. That’s similar to the charts showing the best power levels for given resistances.

We may see a move away from heat vaporization altogether. For now, it will be interesting to see how things develop.

Of course, 2014 will almost surely finally see the F.D.A. regulations, which may change the industry considerably, so this prediction may be premature.