Mechanical Comprehension Flash Card Set 730307

Cards 10
Topics Conservation of Mechanical Energy, Force Lines of Action, Mechanical Advantage, Modulus of Elasticity, Power, Principle of Moments, Second-Class Lever, Wedge

Study Guide

Conservation of Mechanical Energy

As an object falls, its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. The principle of conservation of mechanical energy states that, as long as no other forces are applied, total mechanical energy (PE + KE) of the object will remain constant at all points in its descent.

Force Lines of Action

Collinear forces act along the same line of action, concurrent forces pass through a common point and coplanar forces act in a common plane.

Mechanical Advantage

Mechanical advantage is a measure of the force amplification achieved by using a tool, mechanical device or machine system. Such a device utilizes input force and trades off forces against movement to amplify and/or change its direction.

Modulus of Elasticity

The modulus of elasticity measures how much a material or structure will deflect under stress. Stretch modulus is longitudinal stretch (like stretching raw bread dough), shear modulus is longitudinal deflection (like the horizontal displacement of a stack of magzines when a heavy object is placed upon them), and bulk modulus is compression of volume (like the compression of a loaf of bread under a heavy can at the bottom of a grocery bag).


Power is the rate at which work is done, P = w/t, or work per unit time. The watt (W) is the unit for power and is equal to 1 joule (or newton-meter) per second. Horsepower (hp) is another familiar unit of power used primarily for rating internal combustion engines. A 1 hp machine does 550 ft⋅lb of work in 1 second and 1 hp equals 746 watts.

Principle of Moments

When a system is stable or balanced (equilibrium) all forces acting on the system cancel each other out. In the case of torque, equilibrium means that the sum of the anticlockwise moments about a center of rotation equal the sum of the clockwise moments.

Second-Class Lever

A second-class lever is used to increase force on an object in the same direction as the force is applied. This lever requires a smaller force to lift a larger load but the force must be applied over a greater distance. The fulcrum is placed at one end of the lever and mechanical advantage increases as the object being lifted is moved closer to the fulcrum or the length of the lever is increased. An example of a second-class lever is a wheelbarrow.


The wedge is a moving inclined plane that is used to lift, hold, or break apart an object. A wedge converts force applied to its blunt end into force perpendicular to its inclined surface. In contrast to a stationary plane where force is applied to the object being moved, with a wedge the object is stationary and the force is being applied to the plane. Examples of a wedge include knives and chisels.