Mechanical Comprehension Flash Card Set 86376

Cards 10
Topics Gear Trains, Gravitational Potential Energy, Inclined Plane, Kinetic vs. Static Friction, Net Force, Potential Energy, Power, Structural Loads, Types of Simple Machines

Study Guide

Gear Trains

Connected gears of different numbers of teeth are used together to change the rotational speed and torque of the input force. If the smaller gear drives the larger gear, the speed of rotation will be reduced and the torque will increase. If the larger gear drives the smaller gear, the speed of rotation will increase and the torque will be reduced.

Gravitational Potential Energy

Gravitational potential energy is energy by virtue of gravity. The higher an object is raised above a surface the greater the distance it must fall to reach that surface and the more velocity it will build as it falls. For gravitational potential energy, PE = mgh where m is mass (kilograms), h is height (meters), and g is acceleration due to gravity which is a constant (9.8 m/s2).

Inclined Plane

An inclined plane is a simple machine that reduces the force needed to raise an object to a certain height. Work equals force x distance and, by increasing the distance that the object travels, an inclined plane reduces the force necessary to raise it to a particular height. In this case, the mechanical advantage is to make the task easier. An example of an inclined plane is a ramp.

Kinetic vs. Static Friction

For any given surface, the coefficient of static friction is higher than the coefficient of kinetic friction. More force is required to initally get an object moving than is required to keep it moving. Additionally, static friction only arises in response to an attempt to move an object (overcome the normal force between it and the surface).

Net Force

In mechanics, multiple forces are often acting on a particular object and, taken together, produce the net force acting on that object. Like force, net force is a vector quantity in that it has magnitude and direction.

Potential Energy

Potential energy is the energy of an object by virtue of its position relative to other objects. It is energy that has the potential to be converted into kinetic energy.


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.

Structural Loads

A concentrated load acts on a relatively small area of a structure, a static uniformly distributed load doesn't create specific stress points or vary with time, a dynamic load varies with time or affects a structure that experiences a high degree of movement, an impact load is sudden and for a relatively short duration and a non-uniformly distributed load creates different stresses at different locations on a structure.

Types of Simple Machines

The six types of simple machines are the lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, and screw.