Pulley as a simple machine: definition, utility and types

Pulley as a simple machine: definition, utility and types

Since the most ancient times, humanity has constantly searched for ways to simplify work and increase efficiency in various tasks. One of the most ingenious inventions in this area is the pulley, a simple machine that has revolutionized the way we do heavy work.

What is a pulley?

The pulley is a wheel with a groove on its perimeter that allows a rope or cable to pass through it. Its basic design allows you to change the direction and the force needed to lift heavy objects.

The rope that runs through the groove in the pulley is called the hoist rope and can be powered by a person or a mechanical power source such as a motor.

Advantages and benefits, what is the pulley for?

The main advantage of the pulley is its ability to reduce the amount of force required to lift a heavy object. This is because it distributes the load among several weight-bearing ropes or cables.

If we consider a fixed pulley, where a rope is passed over it and attached at both ends, the force applied to lift the object is halved. This is because the weight of the object is divided equally between the rope being held and the rope being pulled.

Therefore, if a load of 100 kilograms needs to be lifted, only 50 kilograms of force would be required to achieve it.

The pulley is also very useful for changing the direction of a force. If a load needs to be moved in a direction opposite to that in which the force is applied, a pulley can be used. By passing the lifting rope over the pulley and then applying force in the opposite direction, the desired displacement is achieved. This is especially useful in situations where space is limited or when you need to avoid obstacles in the way.

The applications of the pulley are diverse and are found in many areas of daily life and industry. They are used in cranes, elevators, pulley systems in gyms, water lifting systems in wells, among others.

types of pulleys

In addition to the fixed pulley, there are other types of pulleys that further increase the efficiency of the system. Below are some of the more common types of pulleys:

  1. Fixed pulley: It is the most basic type of pulley and consists of a wheel with a groove on its perimeter. The lifting rope or cable is passed over the pulley and attached at both ends. The fixed pulley only changes the direction of the applied force, but does not provide additional mechanical advantage.

  2. Pulley as a simple machine: definition, utility and typesMovable pulley: Also known as a compound pulley, it consists of a combination of a fixed pulley and a movable pulley. The movable pulley can be moved along the length of the lifting rope and is used to apply additional force to the system. This provides a mechanical advantage, meaning less force is required to lift a given load.

  3. Tensioner Pulley: This type of pulley is used to maintain proper tension on a belt or chain. It is commonly used in power transmission systems, such as engines and industrial machinery, to ensure smooth and efficient operation.

  4. Deflection Pulley: Also known as a deflection pulley, it is used to change the direction of a rope or cable without applying any mechanical advantage. These sheaves are often used in multiple sheave systems and in applications where a rope needs to be redirected through an angle.

  5. V-Belt Pulley: This type of pulley is used in belt drive systems, where a V-belt is placed around the pulley groove. The belt transmits power from one pulley to another, enabling efficient power transmission in machinery and vehicles.

  6. Gear Pulley: Instead of having a groove on its perimeter, gear pulleys have teeth that mesh with the teeth of another gear pulley. These pulleys are used in power transmission systems where a specific speed ratio and precise transfer of motion is required.

Examples of pulleys

Here are some examples of how pulleys are used in everyday life and in different industries:

  1. Elevators: Elevators use pulleys to raise and lower cabins. A pulley system is responsible for supporting and moving the load safely and efficiently.

  2. Cranes: Cranes use this type of simple machine to lift heavy objects in construction, the maritime industry, and other fields.

  3. Gyms: Many gym training equipment, such as cable machines, use cable pulleys to provide resistance and facilitate controlled movement during exercises.

  4. Water Wells: In areas where the water supply depends on wells, these devices are used to lift buckets filled with water by means of a rope. This allows the water to be extracted more easily and efficiently.

  5. Curtains: Some curtain systems use pulleys to facilitate the opening and closing of the curtains by means of a rope. These help reduce the force required to handle heavy shades.

  6. Boat Sails: On traditional boats, pulleys are used to adjust and control the sails. In addition, they allow you to change the direction and tension of the sails according to the wind conditions.

  7. Escalators: Escalators use pulleys to move steps continuously, allowing people to move from one level to another in places like shopping malls, airports, and train stations.

  8. Mowers: Some models of mowers use pulleys to transmit power from the engine to the blades.

Publication Date: June 15, 2023
Last Revision: June 15, 2023