You are hereTutorials / Simple Machines

Simple Machines


The following is a brief explanation of the six types of simple machines. Simple machines form the basis for every mechanical device. When two or more simple machines are used together the device is called a compound machine. There are many websites that explain simple machines in great detail. One good site is: Understanding Simple Machines. However, there are hundreds of sites with great information about simple machines. Click HERE to do a Google search for simple machine sites.

Lever A lever is a stiff bar that rests on a support called a fulcrum which lifts or moves loads.
Pulley A pulley is a rope, belt, or chain wrapped around a wheel (grooved or smooth). Pulleys can be fixed or moveable. The chain and sprocket on your bicycle is a form of pulley.
Wheel and Axle A wheel and axle has a larger wheel (or wheels) connected by a smaller cylinder (axle) that is fastened to the wheel so that they turn together. When the axle is turned, the wheel moves a greater distance than the axle, but less force is needed to move it. The axle moves a shorter distance, but it takes greater force to move it.
Inclined Plane An inclined plane is a flat surface set at an angle (other than a right angle) against a horizontal surface. An inclined plane allows you to overcome a large resistance by applying a relatively small force through a longer distance than the load is to be raised.
Wedge A screw is an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder which holds things together or lifts materials. Screws are designed to change the direction of effort. The screw's threads move objects up and down as the screw turns.
Screw A screw is an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder which holds things together or lifts materials. Screws are designed to change the direction of effort. The screw's threads move objects up and down as the screw turns.
Gear Gears are not included in everyone's definition of simple machines. A Gear is a a toothed wheel typically attached to an axle (similar to a wheel and axle). Many people think that a sprocket and chain (like on your bicycle) are gears. Actually, a sprocket and chain is a form of pulley.