Having discussed some of the available optical plastic materials, we now consider several of the methods of manufacturing optical components from them. The choice of manufacturing method can depend on several factors, such as part size, shape, features, and production quantities. Over the course of a project, several manufacturing methods may be used as the product transitions from the prototype/development stage to full production. In this chapter, we examine the four main plastic optic manufacturing methods.
Casting is the process of filling a mold with a liquid (or semi-liquid) material and allowing, assisting, or forcing the liquid to solidify. Once the material is sufficiently hardened, the part is removed from the mold. Depending on the casting process, part requirements, or application, the component may be ready to use as-is from the mold, or it may be subjected to additional processes.
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