Mechanical load

Physical stress on a mechanical system or component

Mechanical load is the physical stress on a mechanical system or component.[1] Loads can be static or dynamic. Some loads are specified as part of the design criteria of a mechanical system. Depending on the usage, some mechanical loads can be measured by an appropriate test method in a laboratory or in the field.


It can be the external mechanical resistance against which a machine (such as a motor or engine), acts.[2] The load can often be expressed as a curve of force versus speed.

For instance, a given car traveling on a road of a given slope presents a load which the engine must act against. Because air resistance increases with speed, the motor must put out more torque at a higher speed in order to maintain the speed. By shifting to a higher gear, one may be able to meet the requirement with a higher torque and a lower engine speed, whereas shifting to a lower gear has the opposite effect. Accelerating increases the load, whereas decelerating decreases the load.


Similarly, the load on a pump depends on the head against which the pump is pumping, and on the size of the pump.


Similar considerations apply to a fan. See Affinity laws.

See also

  • Structural load
  • Physical test


  1. ^ Rao, Singiresu S. (1992). Reliability Based Design. USA: McGraw-Hill. pp. 214–227. ISBN 0-07-051192-6.
  2. ^ American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
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