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Print Design & Technology
Mechanisms
A mechanism is simply a device which takes an input motion and force,
and outputs a different motion and force. The point of a mechanism is to
make the job easier to do. The mechanisms most commonly used in
mechanical systems are levers, linkages, cams, gears, and and pulleys.
Levers: 1
You need to know how to calculate the mechanical advantage obtained by using
levers, the velocity ratio in levers and pulley systems, and gear ratio and output
speed when using gears.
A lever is the simplest kind of mechanism. There are three different types of
lever. Common examples of each type are the crowbar, the wheelbarrow and the
pair of tweezers.
All levers are one of three types, usually called classes. The class of a lever
depends on the relative position of the load, effort and fulcrum:
The load is the object you are trying to move.
The effort is the force applied to move the load.
The fulcrum (or pivot) is the point where the load is pivoted.
Class 1 levers
A class 1 lever has the load and the effort on opposite sides of the fulcrum, like
a seesaw. Examples of a class-one lever are a pair of pliers and a crowbar.
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For example, it would take a force of 500N to lift the load in the animation below.
But using a lever - a rod with the fulcrum placed closer to the load than the point
of effort - it only requires a force of 100N. Press play to see a demonstration.
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Class 2 levers
A class 2 lever has the load and the effort
on the same side of the fulcrum, with the load
nearer the fulcrum. Examples of a class-two
lever are a pair of nutcrackers or a
wheelbarrow.
In the diagram, the wheel or fulcrum on the
wheelbarrow is helping to share the weight of
the load. This means that it takes less effort
to move a load in a wheelbarrow than to carry
it.
Mechanical advantage and velocity ratio
Class 1 and class 2 levers both provide mechanical advantage. This means that
they allow you to move a large output load with a small effort. Load and effort
are forces and are measured in Newtons (N). Mechanical advantage is
calculated as follows:
Mechanical advantage = load effort
In the example above, where the load=500N and the effort=100N, the mechanical
advantage would be:
500N 100N = 5
Velocity ratio
The mechanical advantage gained with class-one levers and class-two levers
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makes it seem like you are getting something for nothing: moving a large load
with a small effort. The catch is that to make the effort smaller, you have to
move a greater distance. In the first diagram the trade-off is that you need to
push the lever down further to move the load up a smaller distance. This trade-
off is calculated by the velocity ratio:
Velocity ratio = distance moved by effort distance moved by load
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