Mechanical Comprehension Simple Machines Flash Card Set 319850

Cards 10
Focus Simple Machines
Topics Block and Tackle, Efficiency, Fixed Pulley, Inclined Plane, Mechanical Advantage, Screw, Third-Class Lever, Wheel and Axle

Study Guide

Block and Tackle

Two or more pulleys used together constitute a block and tackle which, unlike a fixed pulley, does impart mechanical advantage as a function of the number of pulleys that make up the arrangement. So, for example, a block and tackle with three pulleys would have a mechanical advantage of three.


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.

Fixed Pulley

A fixed pulley is used to change the direction of a force and does not multiply the force applied. As such, it has a mechanical advantage of one. The benefit of a fixed pulley is that it can allow the force to be applied at a more convenient angle, for example, pulling downward or horizontally to lift an object instead of upward.

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.

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.


A screw is an inclined plane wrapped in ridges (threads) around a cylinder. The distance between these ridges defines the pitch of the screw and this distance is how far the screw advances when it is turned once. The mechanical advantage of a screw is its circumference divided by the pitch.

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.

Wheel and Axle

A wheel and axle uses two different diameter wheels mounted to a connecting axle. Force is applied to the larger wheel and large movements of this wheel result in small movements in the smaller wheel. Because a larger movement distance is being translated to a smaller distance, force is increased with a mechanical advantage equal to the ratio of the diameters of the wheels. An example of a wheel and axle is the steering wheel of a car.