Compression force examples

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Compression force, also referred to as compressive force, is a physical force that applies pressure to an object, causing it to be squeezed or pressed inward, leading to a decrease in its size or volume. This force is encountered in various scenarios where objects are subjected to external pressure or when mechanical systems are designed to withstand compressive loads, such as in structural engineering, material testing, or hydraulic systems.



Compression example - spring
Compressed springs in train wheels, illustrating compression force | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

When a train runs on the rail track, the springs fixed in the wheels of the train experience a compression force. This compression force is generated by the weight of the train pressing down on the springs. The springs compress under this force, storing potential energy. The compressed springs help to stabilize the train, absorb shocks, and maintain contact between the wheels and the track. Therefore, the compression force in the springs is crucial for ensuring the smooth and efficient movement of the train.

Suspension bridge

Compression example - suspension bridge
Suspension bridge experiences compression from vehicle traffic | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

When vehicles pass over a suspension bridge, the weight of the vehicles exerts a downward force, resulting in compression. This compression force is an essential aspect of the bridge’s structural integrity. The bridge components, such as columns and beams, are designed to withstand and distribute this compression force. It is through this design that the bridge remains stable and safe for vehicles to cross.

Hydraulic press

Compression example - hydraulic press
Hydraulic press applying compressive force on the material | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

A hydraulic press is a machine that applies a compression force to crush materials placed within it. When the hydraulic press is activated, it generates a powerful compression force that acts on the material, causing it to be crushed. The ability of the hydraulic press to generate and control this compression force makes it suitable for various applications, such as metal forming, material testing, and industrial processes that require precise force application.

Shoe sole

Compression example - shoe sole
Impact of compression force on shoe soles during walking or running | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

When a person walks or runs on the ground, their foot exerts a downward force on the shoe sole, resulting in a compression force. This compression force causes the shoe sole to temporarily compress under the weight and impact of the person’s movement. It allows the shoe to absorb and distribute the forces generated during walking or running, providing cushioning and support to the foot. The compression of the shoe sole helps reduce the impact on the feet, enhance comfort, and provide stability during various activities.


Compression example - mattress
The springs, which are fixed inside the mattress, undergo compression when an individual sits or rests on it | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

When a person sleeps on a bed, their body applies a compression force on the mattress, causing the springs inside to compress. This compression force allows the mattress to support the body’s weight and distribute it evenly. By compressing the springs, the mattress conforms to the body’s shape and helps relieve pressure points, resulting in a comfortable and restful sleep.


Compression example - sponge
Hand compresses sponge, demonstrating the effects of compression force | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

When a sponge is pressed by hand, the applied compression force changes its shape. The hand applies pressure to the sponge, causing it to deform temporarily. Once the external force is removed, the sponge’s elastic properties allow it to naturally restore its original shape. This ability to regain shape after compression is a characteristic of elastic materials like sponges.

Bicycle pump

Compression example - bicycle pump
Springs compressed in bicycle pump by compression force | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

When a person operates a bicycle pump, they exert a compression force with their hand, causing the springs inside the pump to temporarily compress. The applied force on the pump results in the compression of the springs. This compression allows the pump to build up pressure and subsequently inflate the tire or object being pumped.

Bicycle seat

Compression example - bicycle seat
The springs underneath a bicycle seat compress when a rider sits on it, providing cushioning for a more comfortable ride | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

When a person sits on a bicycle seat, their body exerts a compression force on the seat, causing the springs underneath the seat to temporarily compress. This compression allows the seat to absorb the impact and provide a more comfortable riding experience. The springs’ ability to compress and then regain their original shape helps in cushioning the rider from bumps and vibrations during cycling.


Image credit

  • The stock photos used in this post are sourced from platforms like Pexels, Pixabay, Canva, etc. Due to the age of the images, their specific origins remain unknown.

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Deep was founded by Deep Rana, who is a mechanical engineer by profession and a blogger by passion. He has a good conceptual knowledge on different educational topics and he provides the same on this website. He loves to learn something new everyday and believes that the best utilization of free time is developing a new skill.

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