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Himanshu Ranjan Dwivedi

practical usage

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Oh dear! This is really going to be exciting. So much like the questions that have flooded this site recently, questions of the sort "what is the difference between a dog and a cat?" Well, duh ....

Kinematics is rarely an end in itself. It is a tool used to address other questions. For example, rarely do we want to know a velocity or an acceleration simply for the sake of the velocity or the acceleration. It is usually more a case of wanting a velocity in order to establish a travel time, or to formulate the equations of motion by an energy method. So the goal is not the velocity, but rather something else, but it is kinematics that enables us to reach that goal. Similarly for accelerations. One of the most common reasons for wanting an acceleration is to calculate the forces acting in a system in order to evaluate the strength required, but it is kinematics that enables us to reach that ultimate goal.

There are a few situations where kinematics is the goal in itself, particularly where the path of a point is the objective. Think for example of the motion of the cam follower as related to the shape of the cam. This is a purely kinematic question as long as we assume that all parts are rigid. But even there, we often need to do a radius of curvature calculation in order to make the contact stress calculation to evaluate the possibility of surface failure.

Kinematics rarely stand alone, but it is often the first critical step in answering an engineering question.


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