RPM vs. Angular Velocity

Angular velocity is a measure of how fast an object spins.
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Revolutions per minute (rpm) and angular velocity, two measures of how fast a point rotates about another point, are used to solve physics, mechanical engineering and computer programming problems. Often, rpm and angular velocity are used interchangeably, to simulate pulleys turning and wheels rolling in engineering simulators and video games.

Angular Velocity Uses

Angular velocity is used to express how fast a circular object such as a wheel spins. Because there are 360 degrees in a circle, a wheel that makes one complete rotation about its center in one second will have an angular velocity of 360 degrees per second. Because the second hand of a clock takes 60 seconds to make one complete rotation about its center, it has an angular velocity of 360 degrees every 60 seconds or 6 degrees per second.

Revolutions Per Minute Uses

Revolutions per minute is also used to express how fast a circular object such as a wheel spins. Because one revolution is equivalent to one complete rotation or spin about a center point, a wheel that makes one complete rotation about its center in a minute is said to rotate about its center at a rate of 1 revolution per minute or 1 rpm. Because the second hand of a clock takes 1 minute to make one complete revolution about its center, it has a rotation rate of 1 revolution per minute or 1 rpm.

Angular Velocity to RPM Conversion

Angular velocity in degrees per second can be converted to revolutions per minute by multiplying the angular velocity by 1/6, since one revolution is 360 degrees and there are 60 seconds per minute. If the angular velocity is given as 6 degrees per second, the rpm would be 1 revolution per minute, since 1/6 multiplied by 6 is 1.

RPM to Angular Velocity Conversion

Revolutions per minute can be converted to angular velocity in degrees per second by multiplying the rpm by 6, since one revolution is 360 degrees and there are 60 seconds per minute. If the rpm is 1 rpm, the angular velocity in degrees per second would be 6 degrees per second, since 6 multiplied by 1 is 6.

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