If a machine has a mechanical advantage of less than one, what does this mean?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mechanical advantage is a term commonly used with respect to machines. It gives us an idea of how much force needs to be applied to achieve a certain level of work from that particular machine. Mechanical advantage is defined as the ratio of force produced by a machine to the force applied to it. In other words,

Mechanical advantage = force produced / force applied

Ideally, we want the mechanical advantage to be more than 1. In such a scenario, more force is produced by the machine as compared to the force applied to it. This will result in work with less force expended.

If the mechanical advantage is less than 1, then we will have to apply more force to get the same amount of force output. One can think of this situation as analogous to spending more money but getting a product worth less.

In other words, force applied is more than force produced.

Hope this helps. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial