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2 Tutorials that teach Simple Machines: Wedge/Inclined Plane
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Simple Machines: Wedge/Inclined Plane

Simple Machines: Wedge/Inclined Plane

Author: Nathan Lampson

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.

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Inclined planes are simple machines made of a flat, sloped surface.


With an incline plane, the input force can be exerted over a longer distance that requires a smaller input force than output force.  The mechanical advantage is the ratio of an input force to an output force.


To calculate the ideal mechanical advantage for an inclined plane, divide the length of the incline by the height of the incline.



An inclined plane that is 6 meters long and 3 meters high creates an ideal mechanical advantage of 2.


ideal mechanical advantage = length of incline / height of incline

ideal mechanical advantage = 6m/3m

ideal mechanical advantage = 2


The inclined plane increases the force that is being exerted by 2 times.


Wedges are simple machines made of a device that is thick on one end and is thin at the other end.  A wedge can be thought of as two incline planes back to back.


Calculating the mechanical advantage of a wedge is the same as calculating the mechanical advantage for an inclined plane.  The ideal mechanical advantage of a wedge is determined by dividing the length of the wedge by its width.



The head of an axe is a wedge.  If the head of an axe has a length of 30cm and a width of 10cm its ideal mechanical advantage is 3.  The output force of the axe will be 3 times the input force.


ideal mechanical advantage = length of wedge / width of wedge

ideal mechanical advantage = 30cm/10cm

ideal mechanical advantage = 3

Simple Machines: Wedge/Inclined Plane