from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A machine ( borrowed from French machine , from Latin machina , this from ancient Greek μηχανή mēchanḗ , German 'tool' , 'artificial device', 'means') is a technical structure with parts moved by a drive system. As technical equipment, machines are mainly used for mechanical action. In the past, the focus was on the flow of energy and / or matter. The flow of information first played a role in precision mechanical devices, but is now important in almost all machines (automation). From the point of view of a worker, attractive goals for the invention of machines were to increase their own strength, gain time, accuracy, finer machining options and manufacture identical products. The production worker was also relieved of physical and mental work through machines and devices. These modern tools mainly take on routine and dangerous work.

Each machine contains individually manufactured items, such as at least the frame and housing. Parts with a standard function take up a considerable proportion; these machine elements are mass-produced separately. Fixed machine elements are for example screws and seals, moving elements are for example gears and levers.

Machine for "rolling" cigarettes


Concept history

Ancient Roman pump, 1st / 2nd c. Century, Museo Arqueológico Nacional de España , Madrid

Machines are always human products. (. See "Due to the ancient meaning Deus ex machina "), the machine was up to the modern times mainly as a means to an illusion - understood and only secondarily as an aid - creating unnatural, that is impossible effects.

During the Renaissance , a more precise concept of mechanisms developed : Mechanisms are complexes of components in which the movement of one element inevitably causes the movement of other elements. They usually have moving components and are considerably more complex compared to the apparatus (the ' tool ').

At that time a mechanism was primarily a work , a form of gearing that transmitted forces. Among the mechanisms which belonged kompliziertesten Grand Complication ( Large complication) in mechanical and automatic movements . The Antikythera Mechanism , an ancient artifact that simulated celestial mechanics , should also be understood in this sense .

At that time, art ( artes mechanicae ) also referred to engineering, and in the 19th century, machines powered by water or horses were called mining art .

Mechanical basics: simple machine and automat

automatos humanoides , Center International de la Mécanique d'Art , Sainte-Croix (CH)

The development of classical mechanics as a scientific discipline since the Enlightenment has led to the search for the basic elements of mechanical systems, in the sense of ' atoms ', the components that cannot be further dismantled - this was already considered by the ancient Greek engineers ( Aristotle ): This is how the simple machines are defined, namely rope and rod , roller , lever , as well as inclined plane (in ancient times still the screw, but which can be modeled as a rod and inclined plane).

More or less complex mechanisms occur in practically all engineering and technical disciplines. The spectrum of possible machines ranges from simple equipment with connected, moving parts ( mechanisms ) to complex structures ( systems ) stretching over kilometers .

In technical applications, machines usually have a drive (for example a motor ) that more or less continuously supplies energy. The machines work with this energy, which is why they are called working machines. The motor and other machines that convert various forms of energy into mostly rotating kinetic energy are called power machines .

Because the machine, if it has a continuous drive, divides work processes into a sequence of repeatable steps, its meaning overlaps with that of the automaton. It can replace (unpredictable) actions of humans or animals with activities that can be planned (an algorithm ). The αὐτόματος automatos , "who moves of his own volition", is originally a likewise illusionistic toy built on wheels - but it corresponds to the mechanistic models of the Enlightenment, which also tries to explain nature as an inevitable, determinable sequence.

Development of the definition in industrialization

Machine tool ( pillar drill )

19th century:
Connections of resistant bodies, which are set up in such a way that by means of their mechanical natural forces can be forced to act under certain movements (Reuleaux).
The connection of the body to a machine does not exclude all and every movement, but only prevents movements that are unnecessary and disruptive for the purpose of the machine, so that the purposeful movements remain as the only possible ones.

20th century:
Standardization efforts are aimed at differentiating between machine , device , apparatus , automat , tool , instrument and plant :

  • Machine as a primarily energy or force converting system or structure,
    • a simple machine consisting of only one or very few elements and may often called tool are called
    • a prime mover provides mechanical energy ( kinetic energy)
    • a working machine absorbs mechanical energy (kinetic energy)
  • Device as primarily a signal-converting or information- processing technical structure,
  • Apparatus primarily material or material converting technical structure,
  • Automat as a machine that can run automatically
  • Tools are devices that do not function independently, but are either operated by hand or are part of machines,
  • Instruments are devices that are not used to carry out work, but to display,
  • Plants are complex systems made up of machines, apparatus, devices, tools or instruments.

End of the 20th century:
In Europe , the machine is defined in the Machinery Directive .
As a result of electronization and automation in the 20th century, the term machine has expanded to include computer programs that are used to simulate machines.
In engineering, however, a distinction is usually made between mechanical machines and electronic machines .

The European Machinery Directive as a definition aid

Meyers : Magnetic Electric Machines I (E-Motors) , around 1890
Meyers: Magnetic Electric Machines II (E-Motors) around 1890

With the help of Directive 2006/42 / EC (Machinery Directive) , a uniform level of protection for accident prevention for machines when placed on the market within the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as Switzerland and Turkey is regulated. It also defines what is to be considered a machine:

According to 2006/42 / EG Article 2 Paragraph a (or implementation in national law, by 9th ProdSV § 2, Paragraph 2) means "machine"

  • an assembly of interconnected parts or devices equipped or intended for a drive system other than directly applied human or animal power, at least one of which is movable and which are assembled for a specific application;
  • a whole within the meaning of the first indent, which only lacks the parts that connect them to their place of use or to their energy and drive sources;
  • a ready-to-install assembly within the meaning of the first and second indents, which is only functional after being attached to a means of transport or installation in a building or structure;
  • an assembly of machines within the meaning of the first, second and third indents or of incomplete machines within the meaning of letter g, which, in order for them to interact, are arranged and operated so that they function as an assembly;
  • an assembly of interconnected parts or devices, at least one of which is movable and which are joined together for lifting operations and whose only power source is directly applied human effort.

A machine is as a standalone unit is essentially independent of the environment operational while their individual components usually are not independent of the machine useful usable.

However, “machines whose only source of power is directly applied human labor, with the exception of machines that are used to lift loads, do not fall under the scope of the Machinery Directive …” ( 2006/42 / EC Article I Paragraph 2a). This limitation of the term thus excludes many devices that are machines in the everyday sense of the word. Further exceptions and additions are defined in the regulation text.

The new version of the Machinery Directive 2006/42 / EC also lists incomplete machines , which are characterized by the fact that they are intended to be built into another machine or other incomplete machines or to be combined with them in order to create a machine with them in the To form the sense of the directive.

Examples, with the associated requirements of the EU directives as a result:

  • A clamping device for workpieces that draws the energy and signals from a higher-level machine is not a machine.
    Reason: no function without a higher-level machine. (RL: declaration of incorporation )
  • The pitchfork is not a machine.
    Reason: no attachment to the machine (intended use), no moving parts, only operated with muscle power, no stored energy. (RL: no marking)

More specific definitions

Timeline / historical examples

  • the planned use of levers and wheels was crucial for the development of machines
  • approx. 700 BC Chr .: Babylonian pumping stations in Assyria, mechanical engineering works
  • approx. 550 BC Chr .: lathe , first machine tools
  • approx. 340 BC Chr .: Aristotle definition : lever, screw are called 'machine'
  • approx. 50 AD: Heron of Alexandria first heat engine
  • 15th century: machine = 'work of art' ( artist engineers example Leonardo da Vinci )
  • 16th century: machine = 'technical device' ( engineering example Galileo Galilei )
  • 17th century: simulations of nature with mechanical models, nature = 'machine' (for example in Descartes )
  • 1712: Thomas Newcomen first usable steam engine (machine for heat engine ), improved considerably by James Watt in 1769
  • 1789: The French Revolution changes attitudes towards mechanics and machines. Liberation of man from slavery also by rejecting the worship of antiquity
  • around 1900: Differentiation between special machines and machine tools.
  • 1957: Integration of the machine: man-machine system
Engine room of a ship

Machines in mythology and literature

  • In the literature of the Baroque and Romantic periods , mythical creatures were also referred to as machines, in ancient poetry it was often the mythical creatures that represented the mechanism that drove history forward.
  • Social sciences and psychology take up mechanical aspects in order to present psychological or social issues as machines , such as the philosopher Gilles Deleuze .
  • Hephaestus , the blacksmith god , is said to have created mechanical women out of gold, his most famous creations are the Pandora and the bronze giant Talos
  • Rabbi Judah Löw is said to have created an artificial human, the golem , out of clay to protect the Prague Jews from their enemies
  • At the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, parallel to the technical revolution, the artificial human was also a topic in romantic literature.
  • At the beginning of the 20th century the android or robot found its way into literature, Isaac Asimov formulated the “robot laws”, which define a code of behavior for automata.
  • The devil often appears in fairy tales in connection with mills and other technical structures, the term " devil's work " is often used when a new technology is introduced.
  • "A machine is only useful if it has become independent of the knowledge that led to its invention." ( Friedrich Dürrenmatt : The Physicists - Conversation between Inspector Voss and Newton (1st act))

See also


  • Hans-Dieter Bahr: About dealing with machines . Konkursbuchverlag, Tübingen 1983, ISBN 3-88769-011-7 .
  • Martin Burckhardt: From the spirit of the machine. A story of cultural upheaval . Campus Verlag, Frankfurt am Main / New York 1999, ISBN 3-593-36275-9 .
  • Martin Burckhardt: Philosophy of the machine. Matthes & Seitz, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-95757-476-3 .
  • Jürgen Dahl (Hrsg.): Youth of the machines. Images from the encyclopedia by Diderot and d'Alembert (1751–1772) . Ebenhausen b. Munich 1965, DNB 452258197 ( Photos of the images: Bavarian State Library Munich)
  • Thomas Klindt, Thomas Kraus, Dirk von Locquenghien, Hans-J. Ostermann: The new 2006 Machinery Directive . Beuth Verlag, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-410-16518-7 .
  • Sybille Krämer: Symbolic machines. The idea of ​​formalization in a historical outline . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1988, ISBN 3-534-03207-1 .
  • Machine fantasies - on the cultural history of the human-machine relationship . Exhibition catalog. Technical collections of the city of Dresden from July 11th to September 24th, 1994.
  • Marshall McLuhan: The Mechanical Bride - Popular Culture of Industrial Man . Verlag der Kunst, Amsterdam 1996, ISBN 90-5705-021-8 .
  • Karl v. Meyenn (ed.): Triumph and crisis of mechanics . Piper Verlag, Munich / Zurich 1990.
  • Marcus Popplow: The use of lat. Machina in the Middle Ages and in the early modern times - from scaffolding to Zonca's mechanical roast turner . In: Technikgeschichte, Vol. 60 (1993), H. 1, pp. 7-26.
  • Heiko Schmid: Metaphysical machines. Techno-imaginative developments and their history in art and culture. transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2016, ISBN 978-3-8376-3622-2 .
  • Werner Stein: Culture timetable . FA Herbig, Munich / Berlin / Vienna 1974.
  • Sigvard Strandh: The machine, history - elements - function . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1980, ISBN 3-451-18873-2 .

Web links

Commons : Machines  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikiquote: Machine  - Quotes
Wiktionary: machine  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Kluge 1999, p. 542.
  2. μηχανή (from μῆχος “means, aid, way out”). In: Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott: A Greek-English Lexicon. (Perseus Digital Library)
  3. a b Sybille Krämer: Symbolic machines. The idea of ​​formalization in a historical outline . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1988, ISBN 3-534-03207-1 .
  4. ^ Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 1885-1890.
  5. ^ Ernst Cassirer: Antiquity and the emergence of exact science. In: The ancient world. 8, 1932, pp. 276-300.
  6. ^ H. Dubbel: Pocket book for the factory operation. Springer, Berlin 1922.
  7. ETA Hoffmann , in the novel The Sandman the artificial Olimpia