We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Simple Pulley?

By C.B. Fox
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A simple pulley is one of the six simple machines that are used by themselves or as components in more complex machines. Unlike complex pulleys, simple pulleys use only one rope, chain, or belt to decrease the amount of work needed to lift or move an object, regardless of the number of pulleys that are used together. These machines are extremely useful for lifting or moving heavy objects. The simple pulley was invented by Archimedes in the 3rd century before the Common Era (B.C.E.) and has been adapted to many different uses, though its design has changed very little in the past few millennia.

A rope, wheel, and axel are the components of a simple pulley. The wheel is attached to the axel, which is the center of the machine and which allows the wheel to spin freely. The rope is then run around the outside of the wheel so that it touches approximately 50% of the wheel's circumference. Most pulleys have an edge with a lip or an outer casing to keep the rope from slipping off.

One end of the rope is attached to an object that needs to be lifted and the other end to a person, animal, or other machine that will apply force to the object by pulling down on the rope. All the pulleys in a system are placed above the object to be lifted, with the lowest pulley directly above the object and the highest pulley at the maximum height to which the object can be lifted. With enough pulleys and a long enough rope, extremely heavy objects can be lifted with ease.

In a simple pulley system, one pulley may be used alone or many of them can be used together. If there are multiple pulleys in a system, they are spaced vertically distant from one another, and the rope is run alternately from a higher pulley to a lower one. A single simple pulley decreases the amount of work needed to move an object by allowing a person to apply force in a downward motion while lifting an object upwards. This action cancels out the force of gravity that is acting on the object, making it easier to lift. Using more than one pulley decreases the amount of force needed to lift an object by one half each time a pulley is added, though twice as much rope is also required.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.