Glossary of mechanical engineering

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This glossary of mechanical engineering terms pertains specifically to mechanical engineering and its sub-disciplines. For a broad overview of engineering, see glossary of engineering.


  • Abrasion – is the process of scuffing, scratching, wearing down, marring, or rubbing away. It can be intentionally imposed in a controlled process using an abrasive. Abrasion can be an undesirable effect of exposure to normal use or exposure to the elements.
  • Accelerated life testing – is the process of testing a product by subjecting it to conditions (stress, strain, temperatures, voltage, vibration rate, pressure etc.) in excess of its normal service parameters in an effort to uncover faults and potential modes of failure in a short amount of time.[1][2] By analyzing the product's response to such tests, engineers can make predictions about the service life and maintenance intervals of a product.[3][4]
  • Acceleration – In physics, acceleration is the rate of change of velocity of an object with respect to time. An object's acceleration is the net result of any and all forces acting on the object, as described by Newton's Second Law.[5] The SI unit for acceleration is metre per second squared (m s−2). Accelerations are vector quantities (they have magnitude and direction) and add according to the parallelogram law.[6][7] As a vector, the calculated net force is equal to the product of the object's mass (a scalar quantity) and its acceleration.
  • Accelerometer – is a device that measures proper acceleration.[8] Proper acceleration, being the acceleration (or rate of change of velocity) of a body in its own instantaneous rest frame,[9] is not the same as coordinate acceleration, being the acceleration in a fixed coordinate system.
  • Accuracy and precision
  • Ackermann steering geometry – is a geometric arrangement of linkages in the steering of a car or other vehicle designed to solve the problem of wheels on the inside and outside of a turn needing to trace out circles of different radii. It was invented by the German carriage builder Georg Lankensperger in Munich in 1817, then patented by his agent in England, Rudolph Ackermann (1764–1834) in 1818 for horse-drawn carriages. Erasmus Darwin may have a prior claim as the inventor dating from 1758.[10]
  • Acoustic droplet ejection– (ADE) uses a pulse of ultrasound to move low volumes of fluids (typically nanoliters or picoliters) without any physical contact. This technology focuses acoustic energy into a fluid sample in order to eject droplets as small as a picoliter. ADE technology is a very gentle process. This feature makes the technology suitable for a wide variety of applications including proteomics and cell-based assays.
  • Active cooling – An active cooling system is one that involves the use of energy to cool something, as opposed to passive cooling that uses no energy. Such systems circulate a coolant to transfer heat from one place to another. The coolant is either a gas, such as in air cooling of computers, or a liquid such as in a car engine. In the latter case, liquid is pumped to transfer heat from the engine to the radiator, which in turn is cooled by passing air over it. Other active cooling systems make use of a refrigeration cycle.
  • Actual mechanical advantage – The actual mechanical advantage (AMA) is the mechanical advantage determined by physical measurement of the input and output forces. Actual mechanical advantage takes into account energy loss due to deflection, friction, and wear.
  • Adjoint equation – is a linear differential equation, usually derived from its primal equation using integration by parts. Gradient values with respect to a particular quantity of interest can be efficiently calculated by solving the adjoint equation. Methods based on solution of adjoint equations are used in wing shape optimization, fluid flow control and uncertainty quantification. For example this is an Itō stochastic differential equation. Now by using Euler scheme, we integrate the parts of this equation and get another equation, , here is a random variable, later one is an adjoint equation.
  • Aerodynamics – is the study of the motion of air, particularly its interaction with a solid object, such as an airplane wing. It is a sub-field of fluid dynamics and gas dynamics, and many aspects of aerodynamics theory are common to these fields.
  • Agitator (device)
  • Air handler – An air handler, or air handling unit (often abbreviated to AHU), is a device used to regulate and circulate air as part of a heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.[11]
  • Air compressor – is a device that converts power (using an electric motor, diesel or gasoline engine, etc.) into potential energy stored in pressurized air (i.e., compressed air). By one of several methods, an air compressor forces more and more air into a storage tank, increasing the pressure. When tank pressure reaches its engineered upper limit the air compressor shuts off. The compressed air, then, is held in the tank until called into use.[12]
  • Air conditionerAir conditioning (often referred to as AC, A/C, or air con)[13] is the process of removing heat and moisture from the interior of an occupied space, to improve the comfort of occupants. Air conditioning can be used in both domestic and commercial environments.
  • Air preheater – (APH) is any device designed to heat air before another process (for example, combustion in a boiler) with the primary objective of increasing the thermal efficiency of the process. They may be used alone or to replace a recuperative heat system or to replace a steam coil.
  • AirflowAirflow, or air flow is the movement of air from one area to another. The primary cause of airflow is the existence of pressure gradients. Air behaves in a fluid manner, meaning particles naturally flow from areas of higher pressure to those where the pressure is lower. Atmospheric air pressure is directly related to altitude, temperature, and composition.[14][15] In engineering, airflow is a measurement of the amount of air per unit of time that flows through a particular device.
  • Allowance – is a planned deviation between an exact dimension and a nominal or theoretical dimension, or between an intermediate-stage dimension and an intended final dimension. The unifying abstract concept is that a certain amount of difference allows for some known factor of compensation or interference. For example, an area of excess metal may be left because it is needed to complete subsequent machining. Common cases are listed below. An allowance, which is a planned deviation from an ideal, is contrasted with a tolerance, which accounts for expected but unplanned deviations.
  • American Machinists' Handbook
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers – The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is a professional association that, in its own words, "promotes the art, science, and practice of multidisciplinary engineering and allied sciences around the globe" via "continuing education, training and professional development, codes and standards, research, conferences and publications, government relations, and other forms of outreach."[16]
  • Ampere – is the base unit of electric current in the International System of Units (SI).[17][18] It is named after André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836), French mathematician and physicist, considered the father of electrodynamics.
  • Applied mechanics – describes the behavior of a body, in either a beginning state of rest or of motion, subjected to the action of forces.[19] Applied mechanics, bridges the gap between physical theory and its application to technology. It is used in many fields of engineering, especially mechanical engineering and civil engineering. In this context, it is commonly referred to as Engineering Mechanics.
  • Archimedes' screw – also known by the name the Archimedean screw or screw pump, is a machine used for transferring water from a low-lying body of water into irrigation ditches. Water is pumped by turning a screw-shaped surface inside a pipe. The screw pump is commonly attributed to Archimedes,[20]
  • Artificial intelligence – (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals. In computer science AI research is defined as the study of "intelligent agents": any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals.[21] Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is applied when a machine mimics "cognitive" functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as "learning" and "problem solving".[22]
  • Assembly drawing
  • Automaton clock – An automaton clock or automata clock is a type of striking clock featuring automatons.[23] Clocks like these were built from the 1st century BC through to Victorian times in Europe. A Cuckoo clock is a simple form of this type of clock.
  • Automobile – is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transportation. Most definitions of car say they run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, have four tires, and mainly transport people rather than goods.[24][25]
  • Automobile handlingAutomobile handling and vehicle handling are descriptions of the way a wheeled vehicle responds and reacts to the inputs of a driver, as well as how it moves along a track or road. It is commonly judged by how a vehicle performs particularly during cornering, acceleration, and braking as well as on the vehicle's directional stability when moving in steady state condition.
  • Automotive engineeringAutomotive engineering, along with aerospace engineering and marine engineering, is a branch of vehicle engineering, incorporating elements of mechanical, electrical, electronic, software and safety engineering as applied to the design, manufacture and operation of motorcycles, automobiles and trucks and their respective engineering subsystems. It also includes modification of vehicles. Manufacturing domain deals with the creation and assembling the whole parts of automobiles is also included in it.The automotive engineering field is research -intensive and involves direct application of mathematical models and formulas. The study of automotive engineering is to design, develop, fabricate, and testing vehicles or vehicle components from the concept stage to production stage. Production, development, and manufacturing are the three major functions in this field.
  • Axle – is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. On wheeled vehicles, the axle may be fixed to the wheels, rotating with them, or fixed to the vehicle, with the wheels rotating around the axle.[26] In the former case, bearings or bushings are provided at the mounting points where the axle is supported. In the latter case, a bearing or bushing sits inside a central hole in the wheel to allow the wheel or gear to rotate around the axle. Sometimes, especially on bicycles, the latter type axle is referred to as a spindle.


  • Babbitt – also called Babbitt metal or bearing metal, is any of several alloys used for the bearing surface in a plain bearing. The original Babbitt alloy was invented in 1839 by Isaac Babbitt[27] in Taunton, Massachusetts, United States.
  • Backdrive – is a component used in reverse to obtain its input from its output. This extends to many concepts and systems from thought based to practical mechanical applications.
  • Backlash – sometimes called lash or play, is a clearance or lost motion in a mechanism caused by gaps between the parts. It can be defined as "the maximum distance or angle through which any part of a mechanical system may be moved in one direction without applying appreciable force or motion to the next part in mechanical sequence",[28]p. 1-8.
  • Balancing machine – is a measuring tool used for balancing rotating machine parts such as rotors for electric motors, fans, turbines, disc brakes, disc drives, propellers and pumps.
  • Ball detent – is a simple mechanical arrangement used to hold a moving part in a temporarily fixed position relative to another part. Usually the moving parts slide with respect to each other, or one part rotates within the other.
  • Ball screw – is a mechanical linear actuator that translates rotational motion to linear motion with little friction. A threaded shaft provides a helical raceway for ball bearings which act as a precision screw. As well as being able to apply or withstand high thrust loads, they can do so with minimum internal friction.
  • Ball splineBall splines (Ball Spline bearings) are a special type of linear motion bearing that are used to provide nearly frictionless linear motion while allowing the member to transmit torque simultaneously. There are grooves ground along the length of the shaft (thus forming splines) for the recirculating ground balls to run inside. The outer shell that houses the balls is called a nut rather than a bushing, but is not a nut in the traditional sense—it is not free to rotate about the shaft, but is free to travel up and down the shaft.
  • Beale Number – is a parameter that characterizes the performance of Stirling engines. It is often used to estimate the power output of a Stirling engine design. For engines operating with a high temperature differential, typical values for the Beale number range from ( 0.11 ) to ( 0.15 ); where a larger number indicates higher performance.
  • Bearing – is a machine element that constrains relative motion to only the desired motion, and reduces friction between moving parts.
  • Bearing pressure – is a particular case of contact mechanics often occurring in cases where a convex surface (male cylinder or sphere) contacts a concave surface (female cylinder or sphere: bore or hemispherical cup). Excessive contact pressure can lead to a typical bearing failure such as a plastic deformation similar to peening. This problem is also referred to as bearing resistance.[29]
  • Bearing surface – is the area of contact between two objects. It usually is used in reference to bolted joints and bearings, but can be applied to a wide variety of engineering applications. On a screw the bearing area loosely refers to the underside of the head.[30] Strictly speaking, the bearing area refers to the area of the screw head that directly bears on the part being fastened.[31] For a cylindrical bearing it is the projected area perpendicular to the applied force.[32] On a spring the bearing area refers to the amount of area on the top or bottom surface of the spring in contact with the constraining part.[33] The ways of machine tools, such as dovetail slides, box ways, prismatic ways, and other types of machine slides are also bearing surfaces.
  • Belt – is a loop of flexible material used to link two or more rotating shafts mechanically, most often parallel. Belts may be used as a source of motion, to transmit power efficiently or to track relative movement. Belts are looped over pulleys and may have a twist between the pulleys, and the shafts need not be parallel.
  • Belt friction – is a term describing the friction forces between a belt and a surface, such as a belt wrapped around a bollard. When one end of the belt is being pulled only part of this force is transmitted to the other end wrapped about a surface. The friction force increases with the amount of wrap about a surface and makes it so the tension in the belt can be different at both ends of the belt. Belt friction can be modeled by the Belt friction equation.[34]
  • Bending – In applied mechanics, bending (also known as flexure) characterizes the behavior of a slender structural element subjected to an external load applied perpendicularly to a longitudinal axis of the element.
  • Biomechatronics – is an applied interdisciplinary science that aims to integrate biology, mechanics, and electronics. It also encompasses the fields of robotics and neuroscience. Biomechatronic devices encompass a wide range of applications from the development of prosthetic limbs to engineering solutions concerning respiration, vision, and the cardiovascular system.[35]
  • Body in white - or BIW refers to the stage in automobile manufacturing in which a car body's components have been joined together, using one or a combination of different techniques: welding (spot, MIG/MAG), riveting, clinching, bonding, laser brazing etc. BIW is termed before painting & before the engine, chassis sub-assemblies, or trim (glass, door locks/handles, seats, upholstery, electronics, etc.) have been assembled in the frame structure.
  • Bogie – is a chassis or framework that carries a wheelset, attached to a vehicle—a modular subassembly of wheels and axles. Bogies take various forms in various modes of transport.
  • Bonded seal – is a type of washer used to provide a seal around a screw or bolt. Originally made by Dowty Group, they are also known as Dowty seals or Dowty washers.[36] Now widely manufactured, they are available in a range of standard sizes and materials [37][38][39]
  • Brittleness – A material is brittle if, when subjected to stress, it breaks without significant plastic deformation. Brittle materials absorb relatively little energy prior to fracture, even those of high strength.
  • Buckling – is instability that leads to a failure mode. When a structure is subjected to compressive stress, buckling may occur. Buckling is characterized by a sudden sideways deflection of a structural member. This may occur even though the stresses that develop in the structure are well below those needed to cause failure of the material of which the structure is composed.
  • Bus- A bus (archaically also omnibus,[40] multibus, motorbus, autobus) is a road vehicle designed to carry many passengers.
  • Bushing – or rubber bushing is a type of vibration isolator. It provides an interface between two parts, damping the energy transmitted through the bushing. A common application is in vehicle suspension systems, where a bushing made of rubber (or, more often, synthetic rubber or polyurethane) separates the faces of two metal objects while allowing a certain amount of movement. This movement allows the suspension parts to move freely, for example, when traveling over a large bump, while minimizing transmission of noise and small vibrations through to the chassis of the vehicle. A rubber bushing may also be described as a flexible mounting or antivibration mounting.
  • Boiler - is a closed vessel in which fluid (generally water) is heated. The fluid does not necessarily boil. The heated or vaporized fluid exits the boiler for use in various processes or heating applications,[41][42] including water heating, central heating, boiler-based power generation, cooking, and sanitation.


  • CADsee Computer-aided design.
  • CAMsee Computer-aided manufacturing
  • CAIDsee Computer-aided industrial design.
  • Calculator – An electronic calculator is typically a portable electronic device used to perform calculations, ranging from basic arithmetic to complex mathematics.
  • Calculus – is the mathematical study of continuous change.
  • Car handlingAutomobile handling and vehicle handling are descriptions of the way a wheeled vehicle responds and reacts to the inputs of a driver, as well as how it moves along a track or road. It is commonly judged by how a vehicle performs particularly during cornering, acceleration, and braking as well as on the vehicle's directional stability when moving in steady state condition.
  • Carbon fiber reinforced polymer – or carbon fiber reinforced plastic, or carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFRP, CRP, CFRTP, or often simply carbon fiber, carbon composite, or even carbon), is an extremely strong and light fiber-reinforced plastic which contains carbon fibers.
  • Carbon fibers – or carbon fibres (alternatively CF, graphite fiber or graphite fibre) are fibers about 5–10 micrometres in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. Carbon fibers have several advantages including high stiffness, high tensile strength, low weight, high chemical resistance, high temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion. These properties have made carbon fiber very popular in aerospace, civil engineering, military, and motorsports, along with other competition sports. However, they are relatively expensive when compared with similar fibers, such as glass fibers or plastic fibers.
  • Classical mechanics – describes the motion of macroscopic objects, from projectiles to parts of machinery, and astronomical objects, such as spacecraft, planets, stars and galaxies.
  • Clean room design – is the method of copying a design by reverse engineering and then recreating it without infringing any of the copyrights associated with the original design. Clean-room design is useful as a defense against copyright infringement because it relies on independent invention. However, because independent invention is not a defense against patents, clean-room designs typically cannot be used to circumvent patent restrictions.
  • Clock – is an instrument used to measure, keep, and indicate time. The clock is one of the oldest human inventions, meeting the need to measure intervals of time shorter than the natural units: the day, the lunar month, and the year. Devices operating on several physical processes have been used over the millennia.
  • Clutch – is a mechanical device which engages and disengages power transmission especially from driving shaft to driven shaft.
  • CNC – (CNC)), is the automated control of machining tools (drills, boring tools, lathes) by means of a computer. An NC machine alters a blank piece of material (metal, plastic, wood, ceramic, or composite) to meet precise specifications by following programmed instructions and without a manual operator.
  • Coefficient of thermal expansion – describes how the size of an object changes with a change in temperature. Specifically, it measures the fractional change in size per degree change in temperature at a constant pressure. Several types of coefficients have been developed: volumetric, area, and linear. The choice of coefficient depends on the particular application and which dimensions are considered important.
  • Coil spring – also known as a helical spring, is a mechanical device which is typically used to store energy and subsequently release it, to absorb shock, or to maintain a force between contacting surfaces. They are made of an elastic material formed into the shape of a helix which returns to its natural length when unloaded.
  • Combustion
  • Composite material – (also called a composition material, or shortened to composite), is a material made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components. The individual components remain separate and distinct within the finished structure, differentiating composites from mixtures and solid solutions.[43]
  • Compression ratio – The static compression ratio, (symbol ),[44] of an internal combustion engine or external combustion engine is a value that represents the ratio of the volume of its combustion chamber from its largest capacity to its smallest capacity. It is a fundamental specification for many common combustion engines.
  • Compressive strength – or compression strength is the capacity of a material or structure to withstand loads tending to reduce size, as opposed to tensile strength, which withstands loads tending to elongate. In other words, compressive strength resists compression (being pushed together), whereas tensile strength resists tension (being pulled apart). In the study of strength of materials, tensile strength, compressive strength, and shear strength can be analyzed independently.
  • Computational fluid dynamics – (CFD) is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical analysis and data structures to analyze and solve problems that involve fluid flows. Computers are used to perform the calculations required to simulate the free-stream flow of the fluid, and the interaction of the fluid (liquids and gases) with surfaces defined by boundary conditions. With high-speed supercomputers, better solutions can be achieved, and are often required to solve the largest and most complex problems.
  • Computer – is a device that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of tasks. A "complete" computer including the hardware, the operating system (main software), and peripheral equipment required and used for "full" operation can be referred to as a computer system. This term may as well be used for a group of computers that are connected and work together, in particular a computer network or computer cluster.
  • Computer-aided design – (CAD) is the use of computer systems (or workstations) to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design.[45] CAD software is used to increase the productivity of the designer, improve the quality of design, improve communications through documentation, and to create a database for manufacturing.[46] CAD output is often in the form of electronic files for print, machining, or other manufacturing operations. The term CADD (for Computer Aided Design and Drafting) is also used.[47]
  • Computer-aided industrial design – (CAID) is a subset of computer-aided design (CAD) software that can assist in creating the look-and-feel, or industrial design aspects of a product in development.
  • Computer-aided manufacturing - (CAM) is the use of software to control machine tools and related ones in the manufacturing of workpieces.[48][49][50][51][52] This is not the only definition for CAM, but it is the most common;[48] CAM may also refer to the use of a computer to assist in all operations of a manufacturing plant, including planning, management, transportation and storage.[53][54]
  • Computer numerical controlNumerical control (NC), (also computer numerical control (CNC)), is the automated control of machining tools (drills, boring tools, lathes) and 3D printers by means of a computer. An NC machine alters a blank piece of material (metal, plastic, wood, ceramic, or composite) to meet precise specifications by following programmed instructions and without a manual operator.
  • Conservation of mass – The law of conservation of mass or principle of mass conservation states that for any system closed to all transfers of matter and energy, the mass of the system must remain constant over time, as system's mass cannot change, so quantity can neither be added nor be removed. Hence, the quantity of mass is conserved over time.






















  • X bar charts



See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Spencer, F. W. (1991). "Statistical Methods in Accelerated Life Testing". Technometrics. 33 (3): 360–362. doi:10.1080/00401706.1991.10484846.
  3. ^ Donahoe, D.; Zhao, K.; Murray, S.; Ray, R. M. (2008). "Accelerated Life Testing". Encyclopedia of Quantitative Risk Analysis and Assessment. doi:10.1002/9780470061596.risk0452. ISBN 9780470035498.
  4. ^ Elsayed, E. A. (2003). "Accelerated Life Testing". Handbook of Reliability Engineering. pp. 415–428. doi:10.1007/1-85233-841-5_22. ISBN 1-85233-453-3.
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  11. ^ 2008 ASHRAE handbook : heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems and equipment (Inch-Pound ed.). Atlanta, Ga.: ASHRAE American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. 2008. ISBN 9781933742335.
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  18. ^ Base unit definitions: Ampere Archived 25 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2010-09-28.
  19. ^ Engineering Mechanics (statics and dynamics) - Dr.N.Kottiswaran ISBN 978-81-908993-3-8
  20. ^ Oleson 2000, pp. 242–251
  21. ^ Definition of AI as the study of intelligent agents:
  22. ^ Russell & Norvig 2009, p. 2.
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  31. ^ Fastener terms, retrieved 2009-06-29.
  32. ^ Low & Bevis 1908, p. 115.
  33. ^ Helical Compression Spring Terminology, retrieved 2009-06-29.
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  38. ^ "Bonded Seals from Eastern Seals". Retrieved 12 August 2016.
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  55. ^ Steidel (1971). An Introduction to Mechanical Vibrations. John Wiley & Sons. p. 37. damped, which is the term used in the study of vibration to denote a dissipation of energy
  56. ^ Fundamentals of Classical Thermodynamics, 3rd ed. p. 159, (1985) by G. J. Van Wylen and R. E. Sonntag: "A heat engine may be defined as a device that operates in a thermodynamic cycle and does a certain amount of net positive work as a result of heat transfer from a high-temperature body and to a low-temperature body. Often the term heat engine is used in a broader sense to include all devices that produce work, either through heat transfer or combustion, even though the device does not operate in a thermodynamic cycle. The internal-combustion engine and the gas turbine are examples of such devices, and calling these heat engines is an acceptable use of the term."
  57. ^ Mechanical efficiency of heat engines, p. 1 (2007) by James R. Senf: "Heat engines are made to provide mechanical energy from thermal energy."