Mechanical Comprehension Flash Card Set 871260

Cards 10
Topics Building Loads, Efficiency, Gear Trains, Inertia, Modulus of Elasticity, Normal Force, Structural Loads, Tension, Third-Class Lever, Work

Study Guide

Building Loads

Dead load is the weight of the building and materials, live load is additional weight due to occupancy or use, snow load is the weight of accumulated snow on a structure and wind load is the force of wind pressures against structure surfaces.


The efficiency of a machine describes how much of the power put into the machine is turned into movement or force. A 100% efficient machine would turn all of the input power into output movement or force. However, no machine is 100% efficient due to friction, heat, wear and other imperfections that consume input power without delivering any output.

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.


The more mass a substance has the more force is required to move it or to change its direction. This resistance to changes in direction is known as inertia.

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).

Normal Force

Normal force (FN) represents the force a surface exerts when an object presses against it.

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.


Tension is a force that stretches or elongates something. When a cable or rope is used to pull an object, for example, it stretches internally as it accepts the weight that it's moving. Although tension is often treated as applying equally to all parts of a material, it's greater at the places where the material is under the most stress.

Third-Class Lever

A third-class lever is used to increase distance traveled by an object in the same direction as the force applied. The fulcrum is at one end of the lever, the object at the other, and the force is applied between them. This lever does not impart a mechanical advantage as the effort force must be greater than the load but does impart extra speed to the load. Examples of third-class levers are shovels and tweezers.


Work is accomplished when force is applied to an object: W = Fd where F is force in newtons (N) and d is distance in meters (m). Thus, the more force that must be applied to move an object, the more work is done and the farther an object is moved by exerting force, the more work is done.