Wheel & Axle Function

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The wheel and axle, a form of simple machine, applies effort and resistance to lift or move objects and people. The lifting and moving is performed by multiplying speed or force.

Parts

This simple machine consists of a large rounded part (the wheel) and a smaller rounded rod (the axle). The wheel spins around the axle.

Types

One type of wheel and axle moves people around via bicycles, cars and Ferris wheels. The type that moves objects can be seen on screwdrivers and drills as well as cranes.

How the Wheel and Axle Works

Wheels and axles work either by draping rope around a grooved wheel to lift objects (pulleys) or by rotating the wheel around a fulcrum (axle) to move objects horizontally. Effort force can be applied to the wheel (e.g., door knob) or the axle (e.g., car tires).

Speed Multipliers

Large forces applied to the axle cause the wheel to travel rapidly, triggering an automobile to drive faster, for example. In this case the wheel and axle perform as a speed multiplier.

Force Multipliers

Applying minor forces to the wheel so it travels a longer distance generates a greater force in the axle so it turns a smaller distance. The wheel and axle (e.g., windmill, spindle) is a force multiplier.

References

About the Author

Joan Whetzel has been writing professionally since 1998. She has written juvenile nonfiction, movie and television scripts and adult nonfiction. Her juvenile nonfiction has appeared in such magazines as "Tech Directions," "Connect" and "Class Act." She was part of the production team that produced the documentary "Fuel for Thought" on Houston PBS. She has also written articles for Katy Magazine Online.

Photo Credits

  • anciens essieux de wagon image by dead_account from Fotolia.com

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