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Simple machine

A simple machine is a non-motorized device that changes the direction or magnitude of a force. In
general, a simple machine can be defined as one of the simplest mechanisms that
provide mechanical advantage (also called leverage).
Usually the term refers to the six classical simple machines which were defined
byRenaissance scientists: Lever, Wheel and axle, Pulley, Inclined plane, Wedge, and Screw.
A simple machine is an elementary device that has a specific movement, often called a mechanism,
which can be combined with other devices and movements to form a machine. Thus simple
machines are considered to be the building blocks of more complicated machines. This analytical
view of machines as decomposable into simple machines first arose in the Renaissance as
a neoclassical amplification of ancient Greek texts on technology, and is still a central part
of engineeringand applied science. For example, wheels, levers, and pulleys are all used in the
mechanism of a bicycle.Between the simple machines and complex assemblies, several
intermediate classes may be defined, termed compound machines or machine elements. The
mechanical advantage of a compound machine is simply the product of the mechanical advantages
of the simple machines of which it is composed.
Various authors have compiled lists of simple machines and machine elements, sometimes lumping
them together under a single term such as simple machines,
basic machines, compound
machines, or machine elements; the use of the term simple machines in this broader sense is a
departure from the neoclassical sense of the six essential simple machines, which is the reason
many authors prefer to avoid its use, preferring the other terms, such as machine element. In all
cases, the theme of an analytical and synthetic connection from simple to compound and complex is
at work. A page from a 1728 text by Ephraim Chambers (in the figure to the right) shows more
machine elements. By the late 1800s, Franz Reuleaux identified hundreds of machine elements,
calling them simple machines. Models of these devices may be found at Cornell University's
KMODDL website.
The idea of a simple machine originated with the Greek philosopher Archimedes around the 3rd
century BC, who studied the Archimedean simple machines: lever, pulley, and screw.
discovered the principle of mechanical advantage in the lever.Later Greek philosophers defined the
classic five simple machines (excluding the inclined plane) and were able to roughly calculate their
mechanical advantage.
Heron of Alexandria (ca. 1075 AD) in his work Mechanics lists five
mechanisms that can "set a load in motion"; lever, windlass, pulley, wedge, and screw, and
describes their fabrication and uses. However the Greeks' understanding was limited to the statics of
simple machines; the balance of forces, and did not include dynamics; the tradeoff between force
and distance, or the concept of work.
During the Renaissance the dynamics of the Mechanical Powers, as the simple machines were
called, began to be studied from the standpoint of how much useful work they could perform, leading
eventually to the new concept of mechanical work. In 1586 Flemish engineer Simon Stevin derived
the mechanical advantage of the inclined plane, and it was included with the other simple machines.
The complete dynamic theory of simple machines was worked out by Italian scientist Galileo
Galilei in 1600 in Le Meccaniche (On Mechanics). He was the first to understand that simple
machines do not create energy, only transform it.
The classic rules of sliding friction in machines were discovered by Leonardo da Vinci (14521519),
but remained unpublished in his notebooks. They were rediscovered by Guillaume Amontons (1699)
and were further developed by Charles-Augustin de Coulomb (1785).
Mechanical advantage
A simple machine has an applied force that works against a load force. If there are no friction losses,
the work done on the load is equal to the work done by the applied force. This allows an increase in
the output force at the cost of a proportional decrease in the distance moved by the load. The ratio of
the output force to the input force is the mechanical advantage of the machine.
If the simple machine does not dissipate or absorb energy, then its mechanical advantage can be
calculated from the machine's geometry. For example, the mechanical advantage of a lever is equal
to the ratio of its lever arms. A simple machine with no friction or elasticity is often called an ideal
For an ideal simple machine the rate of energy in, or power in, equals the rate of energy out, or
power out, that is

Because power is the product of a force and the velocity of its point of application, the applied
force times the velocity the input point moves, v
, must be equal to the load force times the
velocity the load moves, v
, given by

The ratio of output to input force, the mechanical advantage, of a frictionless machine is
equal to the ratio of input velocity to output velocity:
(Ideal Mechanical Advantage)
This shows that mechanical advantage can be calculated from the speed ratio of the
device. Speed ratios are generally easy to calculate from the dimensions of the machine
using the principle of virtual work.