Monthly Archives: October 2020

The Evolution of Complex Machines

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Complex Machines

Archeology provides evidence that humans have made tools from early times. The complexity of the tools and machinery made with human hands is truly astounding. Steam power and the industrial revolution ushered in new capabilities in tool design and machine construction. The subsequent gold rush of improved inventions has changed practically every facet of modern life.

Tools and machines perform work more easily and quickly than manual labor. These devices are generally divided into the categories of simple and complex machines. The basic set of simple machines include devices such as the inclined plane, the wheel and axle and the lever. Complex machines are combinations of some number of simple devices to fashion mechanisms that can carry out more difficult and intricate tasks.

Many complex machines evolved from discoveries of the industrial revolution and are still important in the modern age. Two of these include plastic injection molding machines and electrical generators.

Injection Molding Machines

The discovery of polystyrene by a German apothecary, Eduard Simon, took place in the early 19th century. This substance has gone on to become a popular feedstock for injection molded plastics. The machines that make plastic injection molded parts combine a screw-type feed mechanism to move feedstock into a heated tube. Once the plastic is melted it is forced into a mold cavity to fashion items such as plastic water bottles.

Electrical Generators

Early in the 1830s, Michael Faraday discovered a link between magnetism and electricity. He found that if a conductor was moved through a magnetic field, perpendicular to that field, an electrical current was induced in the conductor. By the 1870s this discovery had evolved into generators using electromagnets and rotating coils of conductors. These generators produced electrical power for commercial use in Europe at that time.

The invention and evolution of tools and machines is an engaging story of discovery and ingenuity. Man-made machines have forever changed the face of modern society.