Laser cutting is a perfect process for making your own custom brain teasers and puzzles that involve tessellations (mosaics or tilings that cover a plane without gaps). For this example, we made a pentominoes puzzle out of transparent blue acrylic. Pentominoes are polyominoes with five squares; the pieces that fall down in the original Tetris game are tetrominoes, or polyominoes with four squares. There is only one domino.
The pentominoes puzzle consists of all twelve possible pentominoes. These twelve pieces can be assembled into a 6 square x 10 square rectangle in thousands of different ways, yet it is surprisingly difficult to find even a single solution! There are many other games you can play with a set of pentominoes – just do a search for “pentominoes”.
One of the properties of pentominoes is that each pentomino can be made, three times bigger, out of nine of the other pentominoes. We added a novel touch to our pentominoes set by engraving the nine-piece solutions into each piece.
An engraving is just a cut that does not go all the way through. In the drawing below, all of the black lines are cut all the way through, but the red lines are cut with five times less power (a process called vector engraving). A picture can also be engraved (using a different process called raster engraving), so you could customize a pentominoes set with a company logo or a personal message.
Of course, we can laser cut any 2-D puzzle you can draw. You can extend the pentominoes idea and make hexominoes or even higher order polyominoes, you can make custom tangrams, or you can prototype the next great puzzle that everyone will want to solve!