The design efficiency of mechanical systems has traditionally been measured via mechanical advantage (MA) which relates the amount of force exerted at the output to the corresponding force applied at the input. MA has been confined to single-input single-output devices, and only recently to single-input multiple-output port devices. This paper presents an alternative approach to MA. The classical definition of MA required the input force to do work on the mechanism, and the output force to be worked on by the mechanism. However this may cause problems where the external loads flip back and forth between doing work to and being worked on by the mechanism at different points in the cycle. This paper overcomes this difficulty by considering the input force as that applied by the mechanism actuator, and the output force to be the external or applied load. With these definitions, a general expression for MA applicable to multiple-input, multiple-output port mechanisms is presented.

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