Wedges and inclined planes make it easier to perform tasks by requiring less input force while producing greater output force. Learn how to use the length and height of an inclined plane and wedge to calculate the ideal mechanical advantage of these simple machines and discover how ideal mechanical advantage describes the ratio of input and output force.
Simple machines make our lives easier by allowing us to do tasks with less force. The mechanical advantage is the factor of which a machine multiplies the force put into it. For example, if a simple machine has a mechanical advantage of 3 it means that it made the work you did 3 times easier or you only had to put in 1/3 the force you would have if you didn’t have the simple machine.
The wedge and inclined plane are 2 examples of simple machines.
To calculate the mechanical advantage of a wedge you must divide the length of the wedge by the width of the wedge. Therefore the longer the wedge is the less force you need to input.
MA= Length of wedge/width of wedge
To calculate the mechanical advantage of an inclined plane you must divide the length of the inclined plane by the height of the inclined plane. Therefore the longer the length of the inclined plane the higher the mechanical advantage because the slope would be less steep and would require you to apply less force.
MA= length of incline/height of incline
Source: Prentice Hall Science Explorer. Motion and Forces. Copywright 2007 Pearson Education Inc.