As has been widely reported, sales of cannabis concentrates are hot and only getting hotter. Late last year, cannabis market intelligence firms BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research jointly released a report titled “Concentrates: The Hottest Product Category in Cannabis,” which found concentrate sales in the United States reached nearly $3 billion in 2018 and may reach $8.4 billion by 2022. Yet paradox lives in the heart of the cannabis vaping sector. Companies enjoy enviable annual growth but do not appear to be thrilled with the hardware they have to work with, even though hardware improves every year. One could call the situation a convergence of insecurity and opportunity, with the average consumer ravenous, consuming everything in their path, and asking just two main things of their cannabis vape: Work and don’t leak too much.


What do consumers want?
Goals for technology development vary based on perceived consumer desires, and eagerness to meet the variety of demand has led to stratification in the commercial market. The resulting categories include weed pens, portable vaporizers, desktop models, and e-rigs and e-nails. Each has a specific purpose.

The lion’s share of the market wants convenience in the form of cartridge or disposable pens serving up distillate-derived cannabis oil. A far smaller share of the market remains devoted to consuming extracts and flower in raw form via a growing number of convection or conduction devices, though those consumers more than make up for their numbers through sheer passion for the product. That passion extends to the rather sophisticated and expensive rigs required to turn a prized gram of lovingly produced live resin into plumes of thick vapor that faithfully renders the flavor of the underlying cannabis. [....]


Finding solutions
Convectium Founder, Danny Davis, met the hardware challenge head-on by essentially bringing operations home to Orange County. His rationale is brutally direct. “Every single piece of the machine is drastically improved by making it domestically,” he said. “Americans are very good at building machines. We just are. The Industrial Revolution was not an accident. We’re just not great at mass-assembly for low cost.”

Founded five and a half years ago as a product company, Convectium morphed into a manufacturer of proprietary machinery for filling and capping cartridges, pods, batteries, tinctures, capsules, and disposables after Davis realized the need for such equipment and then experienced firsthand the inconsistent quality of machinery made overseas. “They are just not great at building equipment over and over,” he said. The answer, he realized, was to do everything himself. “We rolled out the world’s first automated capper, and with our filling and capping machines you can fill and cap 6,000 cartridges per hour, which is unprecedented. Nobody is even close to us.”

The company also began manufacturing hardware such as cartridges and batteries and has expanded into sealing machines, disposable pens and syringes, and now pods. “We’re trying to drive products the market is demanding,” said Davis, “and what we’re hearing from the individual is, ‘I want something that every time I pick it up, it works and that’s it. I don’t have to preheat it, I don’t have to turn it on its side or upside down or cool it down. I just want to pick it up to use it.’


“The challenge for us as manufacturers is that we never know what’s going in that cartridge,” he added. “Every customer’s oil is different; every terpene mix is different. Consumers are expecting hardware manufacturers to make a one-size-fits-all cartridge. The problem is none of our customers use one-size-fits-all oil. We have customers that have very thin oil, customers with very thick oil, customers with very thick oil cut with thin terpenes, and customers with thick oil cut with thick terpenes.”

In a sense, Convectium serves two customer bases. “Not only are we trying to create a positive fill experience for a non-contaminated product for the [business-to-business] side, but we understand they are not the end user,” he said. “The consumer takes and uses whatever we’ve built. That means we’re constantly trying to figure out how to appease the end user by giving them the simplest, easiest, sexiest device that works every time, and also offset that with something that is heavy-metals-tested, easy to fill and cap, doesn’t leak or clog, and uses one-size-fits-all oil. It’s a constant push and pull between us and the consumer—not in a bad way, but because we’re trying to understand the medium, which is the oil itself.”

Convectium, which joined the list of publicly traded cannabis companies in November, focuses on scale, which is why the company does not manufacture rigs. “If, as a company, you came to us and wanted us to build you a rig, we would do it—and have done it—but we wouldn’t be building it for the mass market, and it wouldn’t go up on the website,” Davis said. But he does believe someday the different types of vaporizers could merge into one device.

“I think the convergence of systems that look amazing but still have functionality is key,” he said. “The way a dab rig looks today, where you open up the briefcase and there are cords and nails everywhere… Now, imagine a rig that looks more like a PlayStation 4. That doesn’t seem as taboo, does it? Discretion is still a huge part of the cannabis industry, so we’re building devices for reality and trying to conform into the future. In the meantime, you have to have a hybrid of both.”

Davis mentioned four technology innovations the company has brought to market: An all-ceramic cartridge called The Reef that passes heavy-metals testing and locks shut; a bottom-airflow, bottom-absorption cartridge called the Riptide that doesn’t allow any oil to sit in the reservoir at the end of smoking; a new top-airflow, top-fill pod that is fully customizable to look like a key fob, a surfboard, or even an Apple remote; and the first all-quartz cartridge, which is about to be released.

Read the full article here: MG Magazine The Future of Vape