Acrylic plastic becomes soft because the bonds between the long polymer
chains become weak. Therefore the polymer molecule can easily move relative
to each other.
Therefore you can not compress the plastic to any significant degree without
fundamentally changing the polymer molecules, but then you have a different
material! Maybe this is possible at high pressures
No. I don't think plastic can be compressed. Soft
It is very difficult to hot press a sheet into a thinner sheet because
of the friction at the interface between the die and the sheet. The
thermoplastic polymer is formable at elevated temperatures, but sheet
compression is not a viable sheet thinning process.
You should research hot rolling of polymers as an alternative.
Do you have any idea of how the polymeric materials were initially
processed into uniform smooth faced sheets in the first place?
Try it. A fat disk, heated to just above its softening temperature,
squished axially (edges free to expand) & cooled in the squished state
will probably have a radial distribution of refractive index. Whether
this distribution of refractive index will be strong enough or
suitable to make a useful GRIN lens is another question.
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