S10 Blog

Copycat Companies with "Cheap" Ceramic Cartridges

Published Date:
January 23, 2023

You know the drill. You see a ceramic cartridge from an unknown overseas manufacturer online or from a conference, you like the price, you test the sample kit, everything seems fine, and you decide to buy it at volume, only to find out later that the product comes with a whole host of issues.  It's happened to cannabis operators at one point or another, and it's definitely frustrating.  

Copycat companies are popping up left and right, and they're usually selling their products for much less than the original high-quality manufacturers. This makes it hard for legitimate companies to operate, and it also means that consumers often end up getting ripped off and in the worst case, endangered. So how can you protect yourself and your customers from these unscrupulous operators? Well, there are a few things you can do...

Not All Ceramic is Made the Same

In today's market, there is a dizzying array of ceramic cartridge choices. While it may seem like an obvious decision to go for the cheapest option, not all ceramics are created equal. Cheaper ceramics (usually made with ceramic alumina) will not hold up to high heat over a long period of time and are prone to fracturing and microchipping. Once the cartridge has been compromised, it can easily break off into the cannabis extracts leaving ceramic dust particles that then can be inhaled by the user.

Even cartridges touting durable materials like 'ceramic alumina' or 'zirconia ceramic' may not have been manufactured under stringent quality controls and may not even be made of the materials they say. Investing in cheap knock-offs is more expensive in the end as operators risk both their reputations and their customers’ lives.

Most Zirconia ceramic cartridge manufacturers will make the product with a zirconia ceramic collar and mouthpiece as a unique identifier. Copycats will not see a reason to use zirconia for these parts as they see them as adding a layer of "unnecessary" cost to the products. At S10 Labs, we specialize in zirconia ceramic manufacturing and producing the necessary zirconia ceramic components in-house. This ensures we never have to compromise on the quality of our zirconia ceramic parts by relying on third-party suppliers.

Copycat Companies are Putting Users’ Health at Risk

The production practices of certain companies have become increasingly concerning, as they are creating a lower quality product while simultaneously subjecting consumers to potentially dangerous health risks. Buying from these companies could ultimately cause users more harm than good. 

It is recommended that consumers research companies before purchasing from them, to ensure that their health and safety are not being compromised by using the products. On the manufacturer’s end, measures must be taken to educate consumers on how to spot faulty cartridges and the challenges that they will face with such ‘copycat’ hardware–most notably to their health.

Falsely advertising a high quality material, like zirconia ceramics, leads to the potential danger of purchasing faulty cartridges, as well as a waste in time and money on both consumer and manufacturer end. Furthermore, since Zirconia Ceramic is originally manufactured through S10 Labs, there is no guarantee that imitation operators are actually using ZIRCO.

Original Zirconia Ceramic Cartridge

ceramic vape cartridge

The original zirconia ceramic cartridge was crafted with a uniquely scalable technique that renders it unbreakable. The medical-grade zirconia ceramic is used in bone replacements, meaning that it has optimal durability and functionality. The Zirco cartridge offers operators a hardware option that ensures quality for their concentrates and customers. 

Since S10 Labs is the sole originator and distributor of the Zirco cartridge, meaning copycat companies utilize counterfeit manufacturing methods and their cartridges are not GMP compliant. The results of using non compliant methods include compromised durability, performance, and reliability. Factors that will easily drive consumers the opposite way. The cost of purchasing an authentic product will always be worth the investment; and making sure you get what you pay for can make all the difference as well.

Breaking News: Copycat Company Using Trademarked Names

510 vape cartridge

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but infringing upon trademark laws and design patents, not so much. As the pioneer of manufacturing zirconia ceramic cartridges at scale, S10 Labs has seen endless attempts by copycat companies to recreate their high-end zirconia ceramic cartridge, Zirco™. However, the newest copycat, DopeX, has taken things one step further, and bestowed the name Zirco on their very own imitation ceramic cartridge. 

DopeX is a subsidiary of a manufacturer that is known for producing electronic nicotine devices (ENDS) that closely resemble those of other well-known brands. The company is not known for making cannabis hardware, putting their reliability heavily in question. It is unknown if these groups even have prior manufacturing experiences to safely produce quality cannabis hardware.  

Advertising a faulty ceramic cartridge named after a high quality product harms the reputation of the original brand whose name(s) are being used without permission. It is important for consumers to be aware of this type of behavior, and to purchase products from reputable companies who respect intellectual property rights. It's also important to note that using trademarked names without permission can lead to legal action being taken against said company. 

Research Reliable Sources

vape cart for weed

Sourcing for goods, services, and experiences comes with the natural risk of getting something that doesn't meet expectations. To make sure you're not falling prey to fraudsters or being misled by faulty products, it is essential to do your research and make sure you are only buying from a reputable cannabis hardware source. There are a number of certificates and documentation that you can request from your manufacturer to certify that they follow good practices and have completed 3rd party testing on their hardware.

This includes facility inspection reports of:

  • an ISO9001 certificate
  • a GMP compliance certificate, and a QMS program (ISO13485)
  • Quality Manual and Quality Policy

When it comes to the actual product, it is important to ask for a components list and a specifications sheet. This will provide information on the materials used in the construction of the cartridges and ensure that they are safe and suitable for use with cannabis products.

Lastly, it is important to ask for testing documentation such as:

  • GRAS
  • 21 CFR
  • CE Certificates
  • ROHS Certificates
  • State Side Heavy Metal Hardware Test

This will ensure that the cartridges have been tested and comply with relevant safety standards. By taking these steps, cannabis operators can be confident that they are purchasing high-quality cartridges that comply with industry standards. Legitimate companies should have no issue producing these documents for buyers. 

In conclusion, be wary of operators selling inauthentic ceramic cartridges, especially those merely copying others in the industry. Be sure to educate yourself on quality cannabis products and look for a reputable source, if you decide to purchase one. 

Operators looking for quality cartridges should check out the Zirco™Cartridge by S10 Labs. S10 Labs team of experts has developed an improved version of the original ceramic cartridge. The unique manufacturing process is designed to make a cartridge that is more durable, effective, and compatible with higher viscosity extracts than our previous generation. Learn more about this innovative product by visiting our website or talking to one of our team members today!

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