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Forces acting on Body Moving on a Horizontal Plane

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The force pushing - or pulling - a body along a horizontal surface can be expressed as

Q = F cos α                          (1)


Q = force moving the body in horizontal direction (N, lb)

α = angle between force F and horizontal plane

The force acting in vertical direction can be calculated as:

P = (F2 - Q2)1/2                       (2)


P = force acting in vertical direction (N, lb)


Example - Strong Man Pulling a Truck

By stu_spivack [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A "strong man" is pulling a truck by exerting a force of 1000 N. The force is acting 30o to the horizontal plane.

The horizontal force on the truck can be calculated as

Q = (1000 N) cos(30o)  

   = 866 N

   = 0.87 kN

The vertical force "lifting" truck can be calculated as

P = ((1000 N)2 - (866 N)2)1/2

  = 500 N

  = 0.5 kN

Horizontal and Vertical Force Calculator

The calculator below can used to calculate the horizontal and vertical forces:

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