|Topics||Efficiency, First-Class Lever, Inclined Plane, Screw, Second-Class Lever, Third-Class Lever, Wheel and Axle|
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.
A first-class lever is used to increase force or distance while changing the direction of the force. The lever pivots on a fulcrum and, when a force is applied to the lever at one side of the fulcrum, the other end moves in the opposite direction. The position of the fulcrum also defines the mechanical advantage of the lever. If the fulcrum is closer to the force being applied, the load can be moved a greater distance at the expense of requiring a greater input force. If the fulcrum is closer to the load, less force is required but the force must be applied over a longer distance. An example of a first-class lever is a seesaw / teeter-totter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.