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Simple Machines

Simple Machines

Author: Nathan Lampson

Learn how the application and direction of force applied to objects demonstrate increased efficiency with simple machines. Discover how an inclined plane helps exert a mechanical advantage, and how a wedge, lever, and pulley are designed around the the concepts of input and output forces. Establish engineering skills at the basic level by learning the design of simple machines.

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A simple machine helps  make work easier by changing the amount or direction of the force being applied.  There are six main types of simple machines that can be used to increase efficiency or change the direction of a force.


Inclined Plane

An inclined plane is a flat sloped surface used to produce a mechanical advantage by allowing the user to exert their input force over a longer distance.



Wedges are a simple machine that are thick at one end and taper to a thin edge.  A wedge can be thought of as two inclined planes back to back.



Screws are composed of an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder.  The closer the threads are on a screw, the greater the mechanical advantages.



A lever is a bar that pivots, or rotates, on a fixed point.  Levers can be used to change the direction of the input force.


Wheel and Axle

The wheel and axle is a simple machine that consists of two cylindrical objects fastened together.  The larger of the two is called the wheel and the other the axle.



Pulleys are simple machines made up of a grooved wheel with a rope or cable wrapped around it.  A pulley can be used to change the direction of the input force or produce a mechanical advantage.

Simple Machines