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Inclined Plane

a simple machine used to raise or lower a load by rolling or sliding

The secret of the inclined plane's mechanical advantage is that for an object resting on the plane the vertical force of gravity acting on it is split into two smaller forces, one perpendicular to, one parallel to the plane. And it is only the parallel force which needs to be counteracted by pushing. If there is no friction on the plane, the pushing effort required will be one tenth the weight if the length of the plane is 10 times its height. Just as with a lever, pulley, or wheel and axle, any decrease in force is accompanied by a reciprocal increase in the distance.

The diagrams below show a man pushing a cylinder weighing 60 pounds up an inclined plane. The ratio of the triangle's height to its hypoteneuse determines how much effort (arrows) the man must exert to move the cylinder up the plane at a uniform speed. Top: the answer is one half, or 30 pounds. Middle: one third of 60, or 20 pounds. Bottom: one quarter of 60, or 15 pounds.

the mathematics of an inclined plane

Robert O'Brien Machines New York: Time Incorporated, 1964
The World Book Encyclopedia Chicago: World Book-Childcraft International, 1979

Wheel and Axle

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The Robinson Library >> Technology >> Mechanical Engineering >> Machines In General

This page was last updated on August 02, 2017.