Elemental Pentominoes

During the summer of 2020 I started tinkering with the hobby of metal casting. My first project (and impetus to start the hobby) was to create a custom set of my Digits In A Box puzzle such that each of the digits was a distinct element. That, of course, required ten different elements (technically not all of them were metals, a couple were "metalloids" and one a "non-metal).

After that project was complete, I turned my attention to creating a set of twelve pentominoes, each a different element. This was pretty tough given the limitations I have to work within (how hot my foundry can get, using (fairly-)non-toxic elements, and so forth). However, I was able to cast a dozen unique elements (and also cast a tray for the pieces out of brass -- an alloy). Here is the result:

Here is a breakdown off what elements were used for which pieces:

The pieces are based off of 1 centimeter unit cubes, but after shrinkage due to cooling of molten metal (and the built in tolerances and slightly rounded corners) each one is about 4 cm3 of material. The silver one is pure silver (not sterling) but it is not the most expensive in terms of material cost. That would be the germanium. Germanium is a metalloid with a fairly high melting point (over 1700 °F). I was glad I was able to get it to work because had it not, my remaining element choice would have been gold... and a solid gold piece would have cost about $5,000 in material...

- Eric Harshbarger, 26 Jun 2020

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