# Cam

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A cam is a rotating or sliding piece in a mechanical linkage used especially in transforming rotary motion into linear motion or vice-versa.[1][2] It is often a part of a rotating wheel (e.g. an eccentric wheel) or shaft (e.g. a cylinder with an irregular shape) that strikes a lever at one or more points on its circular path. The cam can be a simple tooth, as is used to deliver pulses of power to a steam hammer, for example, or an eccentric disc or other shape that produces a smooth reciprocating (back and forth) motion in the follower, which is a lever making contact with the cam.

## Contents

### Overview

The cam can be seen as a device that translates from circular to reciprocating (or sometimes oscillating) motion.[3] A common example is the camshaft of an automobile, which takes the rotary motion of the engine and translates it into the reciprocating motion necessary to operate the intake and exhaust valves of the cylinders.

The opposite operation, translation of reciprocating motion to circular motion, is done by a crank. An example is the crankshaft of a car, which takes the reciprocating motion of the pistons and translates it into the rotary motion necessary to operate the wheels.

Cams can also be viewed as information-storing and -transmitting devices. Examples are the cam-drums that direct the notes of a music box or the movements of a screw machine's various tools and chucks. The information stored and transmitted by the cam is the answer to the question, "What actions should happen, and when?" (Even an automotive camshaft essentially answers that question, although the music box cam is a still-better example in illustrating this concept.)

### Displacement diagram

Certain cams can be characterized by their displacement diagrams, which reflect the changing position a roller follower (a shaft with a rotating wheel at the end) would make as the cam rotates about an axis. These diagrams relate angular position, usually in degrees, to the radial displacement experienced at that position. Displacement diagrams are traditionally presented as graphs with non-negative values. A simple displacement diagram illustrates the follower motion at a constant velocity rise followed by a similar return with a dwell in between as depicted in figure 2.[4] The rise is the motion of the follower away from the cam center, dwell is the motion where the follower is at rest, and return is the motion of the follower toward the cam center. [5]