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From Wikipedia

Mechanical advantage

In physics and engineering, mechanical advantage (MA) is the factor by which a mechanism multiplies the force or torque applied to it. Generally, the mechanical advantage is defined as follows:

MA = \frac{\text{output force}}{\text{input force}}

For an ideal (frictionless) mechanism, it is also equal to:

MA = \frac{\text{distance over which effort is applied}}{\text{distance over which the load is moved}}

For an ideal machine, the two equations can be combined, indicating that the force exerted IN to such a machine (denominator of first ratio) multiplied by the distance moved IN (numerator of second ratio) will equal the force exerted OUT of the machine multiplied by the distance moved OUT (i.e., work IN equals work OUT).

As an ideal example, using a block and tackle with 6 ropes, and a 600 pound load, the operator would be required to pull the rope 6 feet, and exert 100 pounds of force to lift the load 1 foot. Both equations show that the MA is 6. In the first equation, 100 pounds of force IN results in 600 pounds of force OUT. The second equation calculates only the ideal mechanical advantage (IMA) and ignores real world energy losses due to friction and other causes. Subtracting those losses from the IMA or using the first equation yields the actual mechanical advantage (AMA). The ratio of AMA to IMA is the mechanical efficiency of the system.


There are two types of mechanical advantage: ideal mechanical advantage (IMA) and actual mechanical advantage (AMA).

Ideal mechanical advantage

The ideal mechanical advantage (IMA), or theoretical mechanical advantage, is the mechanical advantage of an ideal machine. It is calculated using physics principles because no ideal machine actually exists.

The IMA of a machine can be found with the following formula:

IMA = \frac {D_E} {D_R}


DEequals the 'effort distance' (for alever, the distance from the fulcrum to where the effort is applied)
DRequals theresistance distance (for a lever, the distance from the fulcrum to where the resistance is encountered)

Actual mechanical advantage

The actual mechanical advantage (AMA) is the mechanical advantage of a real machine. Actual mechanical advantage takes into consideration real world factors such as energy lost in friction.

The AMA of a machine is calculated with the following formula:

AMA = \frac {R} {E_\text{actual}}


R = resistance force obtained from the machine
Eactual = actual effort force applied to the machine

Simple machines

The following simple machines exhibit a mechanical advantage:

  • The beam shown is in static equilibrium around the fulcrum. This is due to the moment created by vector force "A" counterclockwise (moment A*a) being in equilibrium with the moment created by vector force "B" clockwise (moment B*b). The relatively low vector force "B" is translated in a relatively high vector force "A". The force is thus increased in the ratio of the forces A : B, which is equal to the ratio of the distances to the fulcrum b : a. This ratio is called the mechanical advantage. This idealised situation does not take into account friction. For more explanation, see also lever.
  • Wheel and axle motion (e.g. screwdrivers, doorknobs): A wheel is essentially a lever with one arm the distance between the axle and the outer point of the wheel, and the other the radius of the axle. Typically this is a fairly large difference, leading to a proportionately large mechanical advantage. This allows even simple wheels with wooden axles running in wooden blocks to still turn freely, because their friction is overwhelmed by the rotational force of the wheel multiplied by the mechanical advantage.
  • Pulley: Pulleys change the direction of a tension force on a flexible material, e.g. a rope or cable. In addition, a block and tackle of multiple pulleys creates mechanical advantage, by having the flexible material looped over several pulleys in turn. Adding more loops and pulleys increases the mechanical advantage.
  • Screw: A screw is essentially an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder. The run over the rise of this inclined plane is the mechanical advantage of a screw.


Consider lifting a weight with rope and pulleys. A rope looped through a pulley attached to a fixed spot, e.g. a barn roof rafter, and attached to the weight is called a single pulley. It has an MA = 1 (assuming frictionless bearings in the pulley), meaning no mechanical advantage (or disadvantage) however advantageous the change in direction may be.

A single movable pulley has an MA of 2 (assuming frictionless bearings in the pulley). Consider a pulley attached to a weight being lifted. A rope passes around it, with one end attached to a fixed point above, e.g. a barn roof rafter, and a pulling force is applied upward to the other end with the two lengths parallel. In this situation the distance the lifter must pull the rope becomes twice the distance the weight travels, allowing the force applied to be halved. Note: if an additional pulley is used to change the direction of the rope, e.g. the person doing the work wants to stand on the ground instead of on a rafter, the mechanical advantage is not increased.

By looping more ropes around more pulleys we can continue to increase the mechanical advantage. For example if we have two pulleys attached to the rafter, two pulleys attached to the weight, one end attached to the rafter, and someone standing on the rafter pulling the rope, we have a mechanical advantage of four. Again note: if we add another pulley so that someone may stand on the ground and pull down, we still have a mechanical a

From Yahoo Answers

Question:I am trying to figure out the ideal mechanical advantage of a lever thats distance from the applied force to the fulcrum is 1 meter and the distance from the fulcrum to the load is .25 meters. Can IMA = MA?

Answers:Yes, IMA=MA? Mechanical advantage = Load lifted by machine / Effort applied OR Force exerted For an ideal machine output = input Output = Input As Output = Load lifted * Load arm & Input = Effort * Effort arm So Load * Load Arm = Effort * Effort Arm Let Load = W, Load Arm = h and Effort = F and Effort Arm = l Then W * h = F * l W/F = l / h As W/F = Mechanical Advantage of ideal machine I.M.A = l / h = M.A As you can see, this Mechanical advantage is derived from an ideal machine ( output = Input).. And this is used for finding mechanical advantage of all machines. Your question.. Effort Arm = l = 1 meter Load Arm = h = 0.25 meters M.A = ? As M.A = I.M.A & I.M.A = l/h So M.A = 1 / 0.25 M.A = 4 = I.M.A

Question:The output force of a lever with an ideal mechanical advantage of 3 is used as the input force of a pulley system with an ideal mechanical advantage of 2. I need an answer REALLY fast because it's for homework.

Answers:3 x 2 = 6 .

Question:a force of 1250 N is used to push a piano up a ramp 12 m long to a height of 1.5 m above the ground. the piano weighs 7500 N. Whats the ideal mechanical advange and the actual mech advantage? so far i got that the ideal is 8. hm what would the actual be?

Answers:Yes, you are nearly there. Your actual mechanical advantage is 7500 N / 1250 N = 6 (If you had achieved the ideal value, you would only have needed to apply a force of 7500/8 N = 937.5 N to push the piano up the ramp.)

Question:plz help! =)

Answers:Suppose the U-shaped tube has a cross-sectional area of 1 square inch. In each arm is a piston that fits snugly, but can move up and down. If you place a 1-pound weight on one piston, the other one will push out the top of its arm immediately. If you place a transmitted to it. The total effect is a push on the larger piston with a total force of 10 pounds. Set a 10-pound weight on the larger piston and it will support the 1-pound force of the smaller piston. You then have a 1-pound push resulting in a 10-pound force. That s a mechanical advantage of 10. *MA hydraulic system : = AD / Ad = D^2 / d^2. [The pressure throughout the hydraulic fluid is assumed to be constant ] P = FOHS / AD = FIHS / Ad where P = the pressure of the hydraulic fluid in the jack (N/m^2, psi) AD = the area of the ram piston (m^2, in^2) and Ad = the area of the pump piston (m^2, in^2). Rearranging the above yields FOHS / FIHS = AD / Ad = (p D^2/4) / (p d^2/4) = D^2 / d^2. The mechanical advantage of the hydraulic system is any of the above ratios, or MAhydraulic system = FOHS / FIHS = AD / Ad = D^2 / d^2.] *Once again, mechanical advantage is equal to the ratio of force output to force input, and for a hydraulic press, this can also be measured as the ratio of area output to area input. Just as there is an inverse relationship between lever arm and force in a lever, and between length and height in an inclined plane, so there is such a relationship between horizontal area and force in a hydraulic pump. Consequently, in order to increase force, one should minimize area.

From Youtube

Ideal Mechanical Advantage Tutorial :A tutorial for Ideal Mechanical Advantage