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Real-Life Applications for Simple Machines

Perhaps you remember the different diagrams of simple machines in school with their squiggly arrows. At the time, you may not have recognized the application to your everyday life. Simple machines can turn up in unexpected places and have uses you may not have thought of until now.

Inclined Plane

When your teacher described an inclined plane as a simple machine, you may have reacted with disbelief. How can a machine not have any moving parts? Though perhaps the simplest, the inclined plane may also be the most powerful. You could use a system of pulleys and sprockets Farmingdale NY to lift a heavy object up to a certain height, but you would still expend a lot more effort than if you used a ramp to push it. Wedges are another type of inclined plane that maximize force. Cutting instruments are examples of wedges.


A lever is a rigid bar supported at a point called the fulcrum. Your teacher probably explained levers to you by using a see-saw as an example. As a result, a lever may have seemed like something kind of fun but not particularly useful. It’s true that a lever isn’t necessarily very useful if the fulcrum is in the middle. However, if the fulcrum is near the end, a lever can be useful for lifting heavy objects. A crowbar is an example of this type of lever.


A screw is essentially an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder or axis. It can be used to exert force, as it does in the sense of clamps and vises. It can also be used to hold things together. In carpentry, metal screws are often valued over nails for being more effective in this regard. However, there are also screws in unexpected places, such as the opening of a milk carton. This is a wide cylinder with threads used to hold the lid on and keep the contents fresh.

You probably do not notice simple machines as you go about your life. Nevertheless, you probably rely on them on a daily basis.