The Evolution of Atomizers

The Evolution of Atomizers

Tanks for the Memories

Although the first patent for the electronic cigarette was filed in 1963, it didn’t really take off until 2006, when Chinese medical researcher turned inventor, Hon Lik released the first cig-a-like to the general public. Lik’s device used a plastic cartridge containing nicotine, which connected to an ultrasonic atomizer and a battery—and the rest is history.

The Cartomizer
After Hon Lik’s revolutionary smokeless device gained widespread acclaim, the replaceable cartomizer was born. The revamped cartomizer eliminated the need for a separate ultrasonic atomizer by placing the atomizer directly within the cartridge.

Cartridges simulate the filter of a traditional cigarette and contain a 510 pin which connects to a cig-a-like battery. The cartridge consists of a polyfill material soaked in e-liquid that is wrapped around the heating element, or coil. Once the cartomizer dries out, (typically anywhere after 150-300 puffs), it’s then disposed of and the user will need to buy another one.

Cartomizers are still around and are what many people use to start their vaping journey.

The Refillable Cartomizer
As vaping evolved into a mainstream alternative around 2010, more and more users began experimenting by disassembling disposable cartridges in order to refill them amongst other modifications. We can only assume this spawned the creation of refillable cartomizers which are nearly identical to disposable prefilled cartridges, except they’re not sealed at the mouthpiece, allowing the user to drip juice directly onto the coil.

Cartomizer Tanks
At the time, refillable cartomizers were great, but they lacked the capacity to hold copious amounts of e-liquid, which ultimately led to the conception of the cartomizer tank. The cartomizer tank consists of a metal cartomizer within a plastic tank; equipped with a side opening to allow e-juice to enter. The G6 Mini Tank is preferred by many vapers, as it offers a greater capacity and better vapor production than traditional cartomizer tanks.

Rebuildable Dripper Atomizers (RDA or RBA)
RDAs are referred to as drippers because the user drips e-liquid directly onto the wick and coils.

It’s hard to credit who truly built the first rebuildable dripping atomizer, but they became prevalent somewhere around mid to late 2011. RDAs require the user to build their own coils and install their own wicks choosing from a variety of materials (silica in the early days, but usually cotton today).

The coils are then placed on the “deck,” which tend to only hold very little, and in some cases, no e-juice at all, because the wick soaks up the e-juice from the deck. Early RDAs were predominately designed with just two posts and required the vaper to secure the coil wire beneath the post screws. In addition, they lacked post holes found in RDAs on the market today. Just as the case for any first generation devices, in order to evolve, improvements are necessary, but due to their customization, flavor output, and vapor production, they inspired a trend.

When vape pens hit the scene, they were accompanied by refillable clearomizer tanks which regularly contained replaceable coils. Built at around 1.8 or 2.4 ohms, the coils could only support a max of about 10 watts or less, as the first clearomizer tanks were fairly low powered compared to what we use today.

Glass Tank Atomizers
As vaping technology progressed, what once was a hobby or an alternative to traditional cigarettes, transformed into a lifestyle for many vapers. As a result, we started to see higher quality, more efficient tanks hit the market in 2014. These tanks were easier to use than their predecessors and produced superior vapor. Although still technically a clearomizer, the term began to die off around early 2015.

The new breed of tanks were made of glass and stainless steel, utilizing first-rate replaceable cartridges. Even though the coils still did not support high wattage, they delivered better flavor and vapor than plastic clearomizers.

Sub-Ohm Tanks
In the last couple of years, sub-ohm vaping has become a popular method of vaping for experienced users. Sub-ohm atomizers contain a coil setup that is built below one ohm, allowing users to operate high wattage units. Vaper’s experience warmer vapor, enhanced flavor, and generate larger clouds of vapor.

Just in the short span of a year, we have witnessed a number of upgrades and cutting-edge features in sub-ohm tanks, such as: adjustable airflow, replaceable drip tips, rebuildable decks, and top-fill capability, reducing the need to remove the tank from the device.

What Does The Future Hold For Atomizers?
As noted, the vaping industry has progressed and grown so vastly in such a short period of time. In fact, there has been such a flux of new products introduced in just this past year that people aren’t able to keep up. Whether or not someone comes out with “the next best thing”, time will tell, but there is always room for improvement.

So what does the future hold for vaping? It’s hard to tell, but if the last couple of years has taught us anything, the next great product is probably right around the corner!


The opinions and other information contained in these blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Nicopure Labs, LLC, owner of the Halo and HaloCigs marks.

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About author

Alex Juel 20 posts

Alex has been vaping since 2010 and considers himself to be an advanced user and hobbyist. He loves to share his knowledge of electronic cigarettes with the vaping community.

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