CAI Inc.

Inks and coatings are to packages as paints are to a blank canvas. Used in the right combination, inks and coatings can make a package that would otherwise go unnoticed draw consumer attention and, ultimately, money.

Just as artists need the right colors and textures of paint to create their masterworks, printers require coatings, adhesives and inks that will enable them to produce the best packages possible. 

CAI Inc.’s mastery of coatings, adhesives and inks is obvious from its name alone, an acronym for those three products. The Georgetown, Mass.-headquartered company has specialized in supplying and serving flexographic and rotogravure printers since 1985. Inks produced by the company are used in the manufacturing of a variety of packaging types, including flexible and rigid packaging used to market food and other products.

The company’s products include the Thermoplast process, used in high-density process printing and on heat-resistant surfaces; Soil TuffWeatherMaster, a weather-resistant process used on horticulture, insulation, salt and other industrial product bags; and Hercubond, used on surface printing and pouches.  

Technical Expertise

CAI is dedicated to meeting the varied needs of its customers and ensuring they receive the inks and other products they need to create their own packaging masterpieces. 

“We react quickly to customer requests, both from a technical standpoint and when it comes to service,” says Mike Sartorelli, the company’s technical director. 

In addition to providing fast delivery and competitive prices, the company assists customers with internal operations including product testing. CAI can also recommend and implement improvements to its customers’ ink and coating processes. 

CAI’s technical service teams worked with one customer to reduce the number of different ink systems it was using from five to two. To do this, the company developed a system that performed the work of four previous systems. “This led to a tremendous savings in their inventory and minimized how often they had to change out systems in their printing operations,” Sartorelli says. 

The company also has the ability to create custom ink lines based on market trends or customer requests. “Our customers’ expectations depend upon their end-use application,” he adds. “In some cases, they may be looking to make an improvement to their existing product, or develop a new product. We have some products that we’ve made exclusively for one or two customers.”

One market trend CAI has responded to in recent years is the increased use of laminates in packaging. Examples of laminate use include stand-up pouches for food products. “We‘ve put a lot of work into improving the quality of lamination inks we provide to customers,” he adds. 

The company is also often asked to develop inks, coatings and adhesives for sustainable, or “green,” packaging. “We are asked in most cases if our products can be recycled or decompose in a landfill,” Sartorelli says. CAI also meets environmental regulations, including using lead-free and non-carcinogenic materials in its products.

Enhanced Capabilities

CAI recently added new equipment to its manufacturing capabilities. The company operates plants in Georgetown, Mass.; Rockingham, N.C.; Prescott, Ontario; and Montreal.

Recent acquisitions include new milling and weathering equipment, which will allow the company to produce inks for use in the exterior packaging and industrial packaging markets, Sartorelli notes. 

Milling equipment is used to grind raw materials such as pigments and solvents into resin systems, which it combines to make finished inks. Additives are applied to inks based on their end-use, Sartorelli notes. 

Many of the raw materials used by the company are inspected and checked for quality prior to their use. CAI also pretests pigment lots before purchasing them from vendors. 

“Our research and quality control enables us to provide our customers with excellent batch-to-batch uniformity, along with updated improvement vital to producing quality printing,” the company adds. “This technical, hands-on service is what sets us apart, and our commitment to serving customers has helped us grow.” 

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