The Inclined Plane
An inclined plane is a simple machine with no moving parts. It is simply an even sloping surface. It makes it easier for us to move objects to higher or lower surfaces, than if we lifted the objects directly upwards. It is believed that ancient Egyptians used inclined planes to carry heavy stones to build pyramids.
‘Inclined’ means a raised end or raised at one end. An inclined plane may be a constructed frame, or just a piece of log leaning against a higher point. An inclined plane is also called a ramp.
In the illustration below, the man uses a piece of metal as a ramp to move the hand-truck into the van.
An inclined plane has a horizontal side (A), (the distance from the the lower end of the slope to the base of the vertical). It also has a vertical side (B), (from the base up to the top of the sloped surface). The sloped surface is where the man is pushing his hand truck.
There is a tradeoff with this simple machine. If the slope is gentle, a person has to push or pull the object over a longer distance, but with very little effort. If the slope is steep, a person has to push or pull the object over a very short distance, but with more effort.
Trade off helps us to understand the mechanical advantage of inclined planes. For example; there is a greater mechanical advantage if the slope is gentle because less force will be needed to move an object up or down the slope.
Some good examples of inclined planes are accessibility ramps and roofs of houses.