Thermoformed Plastics Solutions Blog

Jeffrey Geiman

Recent Posts

McClarin Plastics: About Our Company

Posted by Jeffrey Geiman on Jan 23, 2015 10:03:08 AM

Many industrial professionals rely on plastics to meet their daily application needs. The use of plastics offers several benefits—some of which include enhanced impact and chemical resistance, adaptability to various environments, and high design flexibility.

Plastics are among the most popular materials used for industrial parts and components today. Due to harsher, more demanding applications, plastic products must provide the best possible quality. Many OEMs and engineers turn to McClarin Plastics for their product needs.

Founded in 1953, McClarin Plastics is a privately held, non-union organization that specializes in producing complex plastic assemblies. Many of our efforts focus on OEMs that outsource non-core manufacturing processes.

Production Methods

Our numerous facilities in Hanover, PA provide nearly 400,000 square feet of manufacturing space. With a team consisting of over 200 highly talented professionals, we mold plastic assemblies using various methods.

Thermosets are created with:

  • Vacuum Infusion
  • Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) & Light RTM
  • Open & Cold Molding

Thermoplastics are created with: 

  • Vacuum Forming
  • Thermoforming
  • Reaction Injection Molding

We utilize Robotic and 5-Axis CNC trimming and in-house wet-spray paint capabilities to enrich the value of our finished products. Additionally, we offer comprehensive mechanical assembly services for a wide range of materials, applications, and processes.

Industries We Serve

McClarin primarily serves the construction equipment industry, renewable energy industry, transportation industry, rail industry, medical industry, and agricultural equipment. Mass transit systems, wind turbines, and construction machinery frequently rely on our engineered assemblies.

As an ISO 9001 certified company, we are well-equipped to provide quality, reliable products that meet the requirements of any industry. Additionally, many of our employees have Six Sigma Black Belt and Green Belt training, and our company is soon to be ISO 14001 certified.

Learn More with This Video  

With over six decades of manufacturing experience, McClarin Plastics is more than capable of supporting diverse OEMs and engineers. In this short video presentation, you will learn about our company’s core principles, manufacturing techniques, product testing standards, contract services, and much more.

We can support your company from development through production, including process selection—this includes product design review to evaluate your specifications and determine the ideal process and materials for your application.

For more information about McClarin Plastics and the extensive plastic manufacturing services we offer, please contact us today.

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Topics: McClarin Plastics

Discover McClarin Plastics' Extensive Resource Library

Posted by Jeffrey Geiman on Dec 15, 2014 2:15:08 PM

Material choice is vital to the success of your commercial or industrial projects. You will need materials that are adaptable to almost any application. Though metal has been a common choice among design engineers and manufacturers in the past, today’s modernized applications can stand to benefit more from the use of plastic.

Plastics deliver superior resiliency and high design flexibility to parts and components. These plastics can be fabricated using several methods, such as molding or thermoforming—your choice will ultimately depend on the requirements of your application.

To provide potential clients with information on cost-effective fabrication processes, ideal material selection, and the overall advantages of plastics, McClarin Plastics has created an online Resource Library. Completely free to use, our resource library offers information in the form of in-depth eBooks, case studies, and other documents that make full use of our 60-year industrial experience.

Resources We Provide

Within the McClarin Resource Library, you will find the following helpful documents:

  • materialselection_mcclarincoverThe Importance of Material Selection When Using the Thermoforming Process – This eBook describes the efficiency and flexibility that thermoforming provides parts and components. Thermoplastics are widely used for automotive, food storage, and aircraft applications; and they include materials such as ABS, polyethylene, and acrylics. You will learn about various plastic materials in addition to their characteristics. 

  • Material_Selection_eBookDesign-Build for Industry: A Hybrid Approach – Design is a critical step in project development, so our team developed this case study to encourage clients to choose manufacturers with extensive industrial design capabilities. This case study sheds light on the hybrid design-build method and discusses common design barriers faced by companies.


  • Plastics_Advantage_eBookThe Plastics Advantage – This case study details the abundant advantages plastic materials have over metals. Due to several technological innovations over recent years, plastics have greater resistance to corrosion and impact, higher adaptability during the design phase, and can reduce fuel and energy consumption in diverse applications.


  • turnkey_manufacturing_cover_assembly_portfolioTurnkey Manufacturing of an Engine Cover AssemblyMcClarin technicians created 2,000 engine cover assemblies for a popular construction equipment manufacturer, and this case study discusses the techniques we used to complete this project—thermoforming, sanding and priming, and spray painting and coating. This project was successfully completed with a quick 10-day turnaround.


  • ISO Certification – McClarin complies with the ISO 9001 requirements for designing and manufacturing plastic components. Our quality management system is first-rate, and we are proud to offer our ISO certificate for your records.


At McClarin Plastics, we are constantly supplementing our Resource Library with new documents and information, so be sure to check back often to learn how plastics can benefit your next project.

If you have questions pertaining to any of our plastic fabrication services, contact us today.

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Insights into Turnkey Manufacturing of an Engine Cover Assembly

Posted by Jeffrey Geiman on Nov 21, 2014 9:27:00 AM


Recently, we completed a turnkey project for a manufacturer of heavy construction equipment. This particular client came to us in need of 2,000 engine cover assemblies that offered durability, outstanding quality, and affordability. As with all the projects we work on at McClarin, our team envisioned a production and delivery plan that would meet our client’s specific requirements.


To create the engine cover assembly, we chose to utilize two thermoformed panels of natural ABS. Thermoforming is one of our more commonly used molding processes due to its many benefits, which include:

  • High adaptability with various materials
  • Lower tooling costs compared to matched die molding
  • Cost-effective tooling for very large parts

The two panels, which measure approximately 17’ in length and 5’ in width, featured a painted exterior and a metallic copper coated interior. To attain the proper coating, we used a batch booth approach to spray paint the exterior; prior to painting, we made sure to take the critical step of sanding and treating the surface of each ABS panel with an adhesion promoter.

The interior copper coating was added for RF protection purposes. Following the coating and assembly process, the finished assemblies were ready for shipping in returnable packaging.

As with all of our turnkey projects, the engine cover assemblies arrived at the customer’s facility ready to be installed immediately. This important aspect of any turnkey project saves clients significant amounts of labor in assembly and material handling. 

To learn more about this engine cover assembly project, download our new case study:

Turnkey Manufacturing Case Study





For help on any of our other plastic manufacturing projects, please feel free to contact us today.


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McClarin Plastics Receives Visit from Governor Corbett

Posted by Jeffrey Geiman on Oct 23, 2014 4:08:00 PM

The state of Pennsylvania has undergone significant changes in recent years, some of which be attributed to its governor, Tom Corbett. Recently, Gov. Corbett visited McClarin Plastics’ corporate facilities in Hanover to discuss some of the changes that have occurred under his administration.

IMG_0415_28129The Governor met with a select group of McClarin’s Executive Board, which included the company’s President Todd Kennedy, to take part in a special forum. During this forum, Corbett wanted to touch on several relevant topics, such as Pennsylvania’s growing economy and the increase of women in state leadership roles.

We began by discussing the state’s impact fees in regards to the Marcellus Shale industry. If you are unaware, the Marcellus Shale is a geological formation of sedimentary rock with abundant natural energy resources. In 2012, legislators passed the Act 13 bill, which lead to these impact fees. These fees are charged to every gas and oil well operating in the Shale formation, and Corbett said impact fees have generated a lot of revenue for the state.

Under Gov. Corbett, $1.7 billion in corporate taxes has been obtained from impact fees, and $400 million has been returned right back into Pennsylvania’s local communities. Impacts fees were weighed against possible severance taxes in the future, but Gov. Corbett mentioned that severance taxes would raise tax rates on gas and oil companies much higher than that of competing states’ rates.

Since all industry revenue generated by Pennsylvania is taxed by both corporate and personal income taxes, our state currently has the highest corporate net income tax in the world. Due to this fact, the consensus in the room was to try to avoid any severance taxes—the topic is still under statewide debate.

Gov. Corbett was happy to report that several new employment opportunities were recently made available to Pennsylvanians; under Corbett, more than 200,000 jobs have been added to the Shale industry.

P1200043_28129The Governor also took the time to discuss the state’s increasing number of women in leadership roles. We talked about the how Corbett has garnered support from the Women for Corbett-Cawley Coalition due to his incorporation of several women into diverse roles of power within his administration.

Did you know that last year Corbett appointed Pennsylvania’s first female chief of staff? Leslie Gromis-Baker was named for the position, and she is very accomplished in the political world; in addition to serving as Corbett’s federal government liaison, Gromis-Baker once worked closely with George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush during their respective presidencies. Additionally, there are currently seven women serving at the head of Pennsylvania’s state agencies—all of whom are collectively responsible for nearly 80 percent of the state’s budget.

At McClarin Plastics, we are always delighted to be visited by our honorable governor, and we are proud to support him and work he has accomplished for our state. 

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The Spectrum of Thermoformed Parts in Construction

Posted by Jeffrey Geiman on Sep 24, 2014 1:59:00 PM

In the past few years, there have been numerous technological advancements in the world of plastics. Improvements in strength, weight and resistance to harsh environments have influenced many manufacturers and assemblers to replace traditional metal products with plastics. New elastomers coming to market can perform just as well as metals for longer durations and with less cost and drastic reductions in weight.

Thermoforming-ServicesThermoformed structural and decorative components are now available for the transportation, construction, agriculture and other manufacturing industries. Construction and Transportation are two of the largest sectors benefitting from the advancements of plastics.

Products in these sectors range from interior trim pieces and exterior panels, as well as well as structural composites.  Materials utilized can be optimized for durability, appearance, and uniformity providing alternatives to heavy sheet metal and injection-molded parts.

In construction and transportation, thermoformed plastics are used more specifically for the following types of products:

  • Complex Hood Assemblies
  • Durable Fenders & Guards & Roofs
  • Stylish Cab Interiors
  • Seating Components
  • Rail and Bus Interior Systems
  • Rail Exteriors such as End Caps/Skirts
  • Hood Assemblies
  • Engine Covers

Plastics have taken the place of metal as the material of choice for much of a vehicle’s body and components. By making careful selections as to the type of plastic, manufacturing processes and additives, there are noticeable advantages to choosing plastics over metal.

  • Improved impact resistance: Stronger and more rigid plastics lead to direct reductions in maintenance cost.
  • For transportation and construction, weight reduction equals better fuel and transportation economies. As the cost of fuel and transportation has continued to increase, this expense has become one of the main concerns to suppliers and customers.
  • Plastics are more dependable within harsh environments. Plastics do not rust and their overall fabrication can be reformulated for better heat resistance or UV protection. These days, plastic formulas can be altered to maintain their original appearance much longer than metals.
  • With colors mixed throughout the product, they camouflage scratches better and maintain their overall appearance longer than metal. The color can be integral to the material and is not a postproduction layer to protect the metal from the environment. 
  • In addition, plastic formulas can now be optimized to prevent degradation due to heat or UV exposure. They are now even used as shields to protect other products from the destructive high-energy heat and UV rays.

Thermoforming Materials Guide Download


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Topics: thermoplastics, thermoforming

Benefits of Closed Molding for Applications in Transportation

Posted by Jeffrey Geiman on Aug 14, 2014 11:03:00 AM

The process of “closed molding” composite parts provides many benefits for a wide range of applications in the transportation industry. 1

At McClarin, the closed molding process includes three major methods: Resin Transfer Molding (RTM), Light RTM (LRTM) and Vacuum Infusion Process (VIP).

Light RTM and Vacuum Infusion are closed molding processes often used by McClarin for Transport Applications.

Advantages are based in the fact that very large parts, of medium volume runs can be accomplished at low project costs. These processes also allow for laminate designs that target structure, low weight applications for interior and exterior component applications.

Close-Molding-Truck-BodyBoth processes include glass fiber laid or packed into the mold. The mold is then clamped (LRTM) or bagged (Infusion) and a resin is pumped/infused in under pressure vacuum.  Once all of the air within the mold has been displaced with resin the cure cycle begins. This rather simple approach allows for very large intricate molds to be made with very low tooling costs. With the addition of gel coats, finished parts may require only minor trimming for a finishing step.

The Benefits of Closed Molding Components

  • They are durable and offer high performance.
  • They can adhere to strict guidelines pertaining to toxicity, flammability, smoke emission, etc.
  • They can be custom designed and engineered
  • They are affordable from an overall project spend comparison.
  • Fast production for quicker product availability.

Closed molding has been used in the transportation industry for decades. Throughout the years, mold designs have been enhanced, as well as product engineering, resulting in a better finished product. Regardless of what kind of transportation component you are looking for, closed molding products should be given consideration as they can provide high quality results and may be best suited for the application.

If you are interested in learning more about the closed molding process or if you’d like to discuss your upcoming project with a designer engineer, contact the experts of McClarin Plastics today and ask to speak with one of our experts.

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Topics: transportation, closed molding, transportation industry

Contract Manufacturing: 3 Reasons a “Job Shop” Isn’t Enough

Posted by Jeffrey Geiman on Jul 31, 2014 1:19:00 PM

We all know that “you get what you pay for,” but there are other reasons to look at how value affects the bottom line in any supply chain. In selecting a supply partner, here are some items for consideration.

1. “Can your candidate support your supply-chain needs? In reference to a new product launch, second tier component supply management, and downstream design/doc control.”

2. The next question is: “Does your candidate offer the value-added services your product requires?”

Not all candidates can match the range of services that you may need from a high-quality contract manufacturer, which gives you enormous flexibility and reliability in producing and delivering your orders. Here are some of the services you should come to expect from a full-service supplier:

  • Assembly
  • Custom Painting
  • Logistics
  • Material Systems
  • Packaging
  • Adhesive Bonding

An all-in-one solution with management and supply-chain support, like McClarin support, is not typical in the marketplace.

3. “Is their expertise matched to the unique nature of your business?”

At McClarin, Value-Added Manufacturing is the hallmark of our success. We specialize in matching the unique requirements of each order from each customer in the most specific way possible. What sets our capabilities apart from even the most-sophisticated job shop lies in the extensive resources we can bring to bear on your project’s needs.

In terms of quality, we offer ISO 9001-certified manufacturing services bolstered by our own Quality Manual-regulated production values. With Certified Composite Technicians (CCTs) and a CCT Instructor on staff, Six Sigma Black Belt and Green Belt training, and a comprehensive program management system, we provide continuous improvement in results for all of our customers. Moreover, our state-of-the-art facilities and equipment are second to none in delivering the manufacturing expertise required to meet the most demanding orders.

So the next time you hear someone say that one of your components can be produced for a lot less by a job shop he or she knows about, ask yourself whether that’s really going to be good enough for your company’s bottom line. Then pick up the phone and talk to a premier contract manufacturer. 

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Topics: Contract Manufacturer, thermoplastics, manufacturing

Benefits of Proper Thermoforming Material Selection

Posted by Jeffrey Geiman on Jul 17, 2014 10:08:00 AM

Thermoforming is a manufacturing process in which a sheet of plastic is heated to a pliable temperature, molded to a preplanned shape, and trimmed, resulting in a usable product. The plastic is heated in an oven to a specific temperature so it can be stretched into or onto a mold and cooled into a finished shape.

In its simplest form this is done with a tabletop sized machine, however, for complex, high-volume applications, production machines are utilized to heat and form the plastic sheets as part of a high-speed continuous process. This can produce multiple finished parts per hour. Thick-gauge thermoforming products are used in many industries and include decorative panels, machine covers, hoods, functional parts, and more.

It is a material efficient process as thermoforming companies usually recycle their scrap and plastic waste. The trimmed material is compressed in a baling machine or fed into a grinder to produce ground flakes. This scrap and waste plastic is usually converted back into extruded sheets for forming.

ThermoformingThere are many different types of plastics on the market today. Along with a wide variety of off the shelf plastics, new and unique materials can be custom formulated. Formulating a plastic can enhance one or more of a plastic's characteristics; however, enhancing one characteristic can weaken others. It is critical to select the appropriate plastic material and its characteristics for an application.

Plastic Material Characteristics

Following is a partial list of a few of the physical properties of plastic. These are used to describe unique properties for plastic materials.

Mechanical Characteristics

  • Impact StrengthThe capability to absorb a sudden force or shock without breaking
  • Tensile Strength/Ultimate Strength Maximum stress caused by an applied load where the material stretches in the same direction as the applied load
  • Elongation A materials percent increase in length under strain
  • Stiffness/Flexural Modulus - The rigidity of the plastic

Physical Characteristics

  • Hardness - Resistance to cracking, scratching or abrasion
  • Thickness - Many materials can be used thick or thin

Electrical, Chemical and Heat related Characteristics

  • Dielectric Strength - The capability to withstand an electric field
  • Chemical Resistance - The ability to resist damage by chemical interactions
  • Flammability - The capability to support combustion
  • Thermal Conductivity - The amount of heat that can be transported (heat flow)
  • Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) - The volume change with temperature
  • Coefficient of Linear Thermal Expansion (CLTE) - The percent change in length per degree temperature change
  • Percent Shrinkage - Amount the material will shrink, post forming
  • Forming Range Range in temperature where a material can be thermoformed while yielding acceptable parts
  • Self-Lubrication - Does the material have its own non-stick characteristics

Aesthetic and Surface Characteristics

  • Appearance - Plastics can be engineered to select for the following qualities
    • Surface Uniformity
    • Color
    • Gloss
    • Texture
  • Weathering Resistance - How well does the plastic resist UV and IR wavelengths, as well as extreme environmental conditions

Economic Characteristics

  • Life Expectancy - How long will the product last before it breaks down
  • Cost - What is the cost of the material, both immediate and long-term
  • Plastics may be enhanced to meet specific industry or government agency's approval requirements (i.e. FDA)

It is vital to determine the specifically desired characteristics for the project. Keeping the factors listed above in mind, you can start to do this at a very early stage.

To help better evaluate all of these options and how to design with material selection in mind, McClarin Plastics has produced an eBook about the advantages of proper Thermoforming Material Selection. You can download a copy here.

Thermoforming Materials Guide Download

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Topics: thermoforming

Benefits of Commonly Used Thermoforming Materials for Your Next Project

Posted by Jeffrey Geiman on May 16, 2014 5:30:06 PM

If you are interested in learning more about the most advantageous material for your next project, we can help. For years we have been a partner with companies in need of quality, thermoformed components. From design to development, building, assembly, and delivery McClarin Plastics focuses on providing only the highest level of quality, with the right material matched to the needs of our customers.

In the case of thermoforming, there are a number of factors to consider. Here are some of the common materials utilized in this process and the factors that go into determining when they are the best fit for a project:


Acrylic sheeting is flexible and completely transparent. It also exhibits great impact strength, which allows it to be used in the place of glass. It is lighter in weight, half that of glass, and nearly 100% weather resistant. Its transparency, gloss and shape are nearly unaffected by exposure to weather or highly corrosive atmospheres. This material can withstand exposure to UV light and fluorescent lamps without darkening or deteriorating.

Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)

ABS is one of the most widely used products in thermoplastics. It has high stiffness and impact strength. This combined with excellent hardness; make it a perfect material for a variety of applications. Along with its physical characteristics, it also has great chemical and moisture resistance. It is easily machined and comes in a variety of pre-formulated products for a variety of jobs. However, it is highly sensitive to UV radiation and must be properly protected for extended exposure.

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE is a plastic made from petroleum. HDPE is a very commonly recycled plastic, making it very good for consumer and disposable goods. It is resistant to a variety of solvents and is used for many applications, including liquid containers, chemical containment, pre-formed sheds, plastic tables and chairs.


Polystyrene is a clear plastic, easily molded, with strong chemical resistance and high dielectric strength, and is quite inexpensive. However, it cracks easily and has very low impact strength. It is used for disposable cups, temporary decorative and electrical applications. 

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS)

HIPS is a stronger and more scratch resistant product than polystyrene. It is also very inexpensive and easily processed. HIPS is used for higher quality goods, or products that demand greater durability, such as household appliances, hard cases, calculators and computer housings.

Glycolized Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETG)

PETG is very lightweight and can be semi-rigid to rigid, varying with its thickness. It works well as a gas and moisture barrier. It is also a good base for a barrier to alcohol and solvents. It is naturally colorless and transparent to light.

Polycarbonates (PC)

Polycarbonates are polymers created from oil and hydrocarbons. They are easily worked and formed with high precision forming, and are widely used in the modern chemical industry. They have very high impact strength with high clarity and acts as excellent thermal insulators with a very high heat distortion limit. They have become common in house wares, laboratories and industry.

Once a base plastic is selected, its recipe can be enhanced to maximize specific characteristics. One recipe might add additional amounts of rubber to a standard ABS in order to increase its impact strength characteristics. However, the higher impact strength would come at the cost of some of the material hardness and susceptibility to scratching. 

Determining the Proper Material for the Job

All of the previously mentioned plastics have been thermoformed for many years. Each has their own base characteristics, and each will respond differently to alterations of its chemical recipe. When it is time to select a plastic to use for a job, and what alterations might benefit the raw material, it is critical to determine the beneficial characteristics for the application. 

What strength is required for the part to do its job, what kind of environment will the part be used within, what happens to the part at its end of life (is it a consumable, recyclable, or a durable good?), and what kinds of stresses will the part endure? 

After determining the critical characteristics, a standard base material can be selected upon which these critical characteristics can be enhanced. The recipe is then altered to maximize these characteristics or enhance multiply desired properties. However, it is always important to remember that an enhancement to one characteristic usually degrades another characteristic. 

To learn more about the entire material selection process for a thermoformed part, click the button below and download our free eBook entitled: The Importance of Material Selection When Using the Thermoforming Process

Thermoforming Materials Guide Download


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Topics: thermoforming, material selection

Benefits of Contract Manufacturing

Posted by Jeffrey Geiman on Apr 30, 2014 3:26:00 PM

The benefits of contract manufacturing go beyond the completion of a manufacturing project. In today’s market, many manufacturing projects stand to gain better quality, productivity and cost efficiency by contracting a specialist in the field. Contract manufacturers have the expertise to provide practical advice in all stages of the production process. They have the right equipment to produce high quality parts, and are managed by trained professionals. Contract manufacturers offer vital support, knowledge and value to specialized projects. 

Reduced Costs in Labor and Production

A major benefit of hiring a contract manufacturer is reduced overall costs, both in time and money. With a contract manufacturer, companies eliminate the need to pay for a dedicated manufacturing facility. They also forego the cost of equipment and training for employees.

Preparing for a big project also takes a significant amount of time that some companies don’t have. Contract manufacturers have all of the necessary components to begin a project immediately after the contract and quote have been accepted.

Leveraging Availability of Resources

In addition to time and money, managing a large-scale project is a serious commitment. Without the proper resources, the responsibility of handling such an operation can quickly become overwhelming.

Hiring a contract manufacturer means that you can place the responsibility of project production on professionals with years of experience managing successful programs. This leaves companies to focus on their core competencies and customers, without being impeded by the details of a side job.

Expertise in Every Stage of the Process

Contract manufacturers are run by experts who also offer design and development support in all stages of the manufacturing process. These specialists have experience with similar projects and the knowledge to overcome common production obstacles.

They work together as a team to help companies select the right tooling, materials and machining to meet set requirements. Value-added programs from contract manufacturers can mean the difference between an ordinary or outstanding product.

Contract manufacturing is an excellent option for companies that do not have the time or resources to spend on new facilities, equipment and training for a construction project. It is a cost-effective and efficient way to ensure a high-quality product in the shortest possible time. Enlisting the help of a reliable contract manufacturer is perhaps the easiest way to bring a tough project to fruition.

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