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In mechanical construction, the means of transmitting and modifying motion in a machine or an assembly of mechanical parts. The chief characteristic of the mechanism of a machine is that all members have constrained motion; that is, the parts can move only in certain ways in relation to each other. Despite its complexity, the mechanism of a machine can always be analyzed as a group of simple basic mechanisms, each of which contains members that transmit motion from one moving link to another. In general, motion is transmitted in one of three ways: by a wrapping connector such as a chain drive or belt drive, by direct contact as in a cam or gear, or by a pin-connected linkage.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on mechanism, visit Britannica.com.