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What is the mechanical advantage of a single fixed pulley?

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Quick Answer

A single fixed pulley has a mechanical advantage of 1:1. Mechanical advantage, which is correlated to the usefulness of a machine, refers to the proportion of force output to force input. Force output refers to the force exerted by the machine, while force input refers to the applied force.

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Full Answer

Machines are devices that utilize mechanical or electrical power to perform a variety of functions. Mechanical machines are contraptions that increase work capacity and efficiency by providing added energy to carry out certain activities.

There are two classifications of mechanical machines: simple and compound. Simple machines are composed of a single mechanical apparatus. The six types of simple machines include the wheel and axle, simple lever, simple inclined plane, pulley, wedge and screw.

A pulley consists of a wheel having a corrugated rim with a length of rope, string, cord or chain running along the rim. This simple machine is typically used to hoist or lower down a load, particularly heavy objects.

The mechanical advantage of a pulley system is determined by the number of ropes hanging on the sides of all pulleys that are working against gravity. A single fixed pulley uses only one rope, where the load is lifted by the same distance as the other end of the rope is pulled down. In a 1:1 mechanical advantage, the applied force is the same regardless of the pulley being used.

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