The Greatest and Simplest Machines That Have Defined Mechanics
One of the broadest engineering disciplines out there is mechanical engineering. The broadness of its scope is due to the fact that it covers and encompasses both design and manufacturing of all components in a moving system. This tells us that from the smallest parts to the machine as a whole, it all falls to the “mechanical engineering” that we know of.
Today, several companies and industries have been repairing, designing, and manufacturing a wide range of machinery. Although, all of their works wouldn’t be possible without these remarkable mechanical innovations.
- Gears and Cogwheels
These are known as integral components that are toothed, mechanical transmission elements used to transfer motion and power between machine components. At any rotating speed, they can change the speed, torque, or the direction of the power source.
So, how do they work? A change in torque utilizing gears and cogwheels creates a mechanical advantage thanks to ‘gear ratios’. Operating in mated pairs, gears mesh their teeth with the teeth of another corresponding gear or toothed component which prevents slippage during the transmission process. Each gear is attached to a machine shaft or base component, therefore when the driving gear (the gear that provides the initial rotational output) rotates along with its shaft component, the driven gear (the gear which is impacted by the driving gear and exhibits the final output) rotates or translates its shaft component.
Without gears and cogs, things we have now such as clocks, bicycles, automobiles, and heavy-duty industrial machines wouldn’t exist today and we wouldn’t be able to live the modern, convenient lives today. There’s no question that these innovations play a huge role in delivering us the consumer goods we rely so desperately upon.
Springs, in definition, are elastic objects capable of storing mechanical energy. They tend to be made of steel and come in coiled form, and when stretched or compressed, they exert an opposing force proportional to the change in length. For these parts to work effectively, they should be stiff enough to resist a pulling force and durable enough to be stretched many times without breaking.
These parts are great for storing and absorbing energy. When you use a pushing or pulling force to stretch a spring, you’re using a force over distance so, in physics terms, you’re doing work and using energy. The tighter the spring, the harder it is to deform, the more work you have to do, and the more energy you need. You can’t lose energy so most of the energy you use is stored in a potential form in the spring. When you release a stretched spring, you can use it to do work for you. An example is when winding a mechanical clock or watch, you’re storing energy by tightening a spring. As the spring loosens, the energy is slowly released to power the gears inside and turn the hands around the clock face a day or more.
Nowadays, all kinds of machines from dishwashers through to engines and even telephones incorporate a spring. Even in vehicles, there are many types of springs used from the seating and door hardware to the valves, suspension, or transmission. Springs help things run properly, efficiently, and safely. They are very vital to the point that a spring designer is needed to ensure the correct spring is produced to fit the needs of the end product.
Another simple engine that helped shape the future of mechanical engineering is made up of a beam that pivots on a fulcrum. A fulcrum is a point on which a lever rests or is supported and on which it pivots. Also, levers make lifting objects incredibly easy with a mechanical advantage, depending on where the fulcrum is located. There are generally 3 types of levers – class 1, 2, and 3. For class 1, it is where the fulcrum is located on the center of the beam (like a see-saw). Class 2 levers are where the load is located (like a wheelbarrow) and class 3 is where the most effort is in the middle (like tweezers).
A lever works by reducing the amount of force needed to move an object or lift a load. A lever does this by increasing the distance through which the force acts. The closer the fulcrum is moved toward the load, the less effort is required to lift the load. At the same time, the distance over which you must apply the force increases. Levers neither increase nor decrease the amount of total effort necessary. Instead, they make the work easier by spreading out the effort over a longer distance.
For our time today, we use levers to lift heavy materials easier, remove tight objects, and cut items. Examples of levers in everyday life include teeter-totters, wheelbarrows, scissors, pliers, bottle openers, brooms, shovels, and sports equipment like baseball bats and golf clubs. Even our arms act as levers. With a wide range of how levers are used, this just shows how important this simple machine is.
New advancements by different mechanical engineers wouldn’t be possible today if it weren’t for the discovery and invention of these simple machines. Such innovations have made us live better and more convenient lives. They act as a basic but strong foundation for our world today!