Mechanical Advantage - Ramp or Inclined Plane

A commonly used tool for lifting heavy objects is a ramp or inclined plane. By lifting the load a shorter vertical distance than it is moved diagonally, a mechanical advantage is obtained. The ratio of ramp length over the ramp height determines the mechanical advantage or MA. In the 4 ramps above, the mechanical advantages are 2 (90/45), 3 (90/30), 4 (90/22.5), and 5 (90/18), and you can see that it only takes 1/MA as much force, or 30, 20, 15, and 12 units of force, respectively, to lift a weight of 60. The trade off is that the weight only rises vertically 1/MA times (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, and 1/5 respectively) as far as the handle is pulled down. The common theme throughout various mechanical advantage strategies, is to apply a smaller force over a greater distance to achieve the same amount of work that one would do using a greater force over a shorter distance.


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