Kinematics of Machines Tutorials : Classification of cams and followers


Cams are classified according to their

    • Basic shapes
    • Types of follower movement
    • Manner of constraints of the follower


Classification according to basic shapes of the cams:

Wedge cam: A wedge cam has a wedge of specified contour. The translation motion of the wedge is imparted to the follower which either reciprocates or oscillates. Generally, a spring is used to maintain contact between the follower and the cam

Figure: Wedge cam

Figure: Wedge cam

Plate cam: A cam made out of a plate in such a way that follower moves radially from the centre of rotation is known as plate cam. These cams are also known as disc cams or radial cams because the surface of the cam is so shaped that the follower reciprocates or oscillates in a plane at right angle to the axis of the cam. By far. the most common is the plate cam. For this reason, we shall restrict our discussion to plate cams, although the concept presented pertains universality

Figure: Plate cam

Figure: Plate cam


Cylindrical cam: In a cylindrical cam, a circumferential contour is cut on the surface of a cylinder which rotates about its axis. The follower may cither oscillate or reciprocate as shown in Figures . These cams are also known as drum or barrel cams.

Figure: Cylindrical cam

Figure: Cylindrical cam

Spiral cam: A circular plate in which spiral groove is cut and a pin gear follower meshes with the teeth cut on spiral groove, as shown in Figure below, is called spiral cam. Il is also known as face cam. Tne main limitation of such cam is that it has to reverse the direction to reset the position of the follower.

Figure: Spiral cams

Figure: Spiral cams

Globoidal cam: A globoidal cam may have either concave or convex surface and a circumferential contour is cut on the surface. The follower in these cams has an oscillatory motion.

Figure: Globoidal Cams (Convex globoidal and Concave Globoidal Cams)


Figure: Globoidal Cams (Convex globoidal and Concave Globoidal Cams)


Classification according to movement of the follower:

The motions of the followers are distinguished from each other by the dwells ,rises and returns they have.

Rise of a cam: The motion of the cam which tend to lift the follower is known as the rise motion.

Dwell of a cam: The rotation of the cam for which the follower is stationary at its position is known as dwell of the cam.

Return of a cam: The motion (rotation) of the cam for which the follower tends to move its original position is known as the return motion of the cam.

Cams are classified according to the motions of the followers in the following ways:

1. Rise-Return-Rise (R-R-R): In this, there is alternate rise and return of the follower with no periods of dwells (as shown in figure). It’s use is very limited in the industry. The follower has a linear or an angular displacement.

Figure: Rise-Return-Rise Follower motion

Figure: Rise-Return-Rise Follower motion

2. Dwell-Rise-Return-Dwell (D-R-R-D): In such a type of cam, there is rise and return of the follower after a dwell (as shown in figure). This type is used more frequently than the R-R-R type of cam.

Dwell-Rise-Dwell-Return-Dwell Follower motion

Figure: Dwell-Rise-Return-Dwell Follower motion

3. Dwell-Rise-Dwell-Return-Dwell (D-R-D-R-D): It is the most widely used type of cam. The dwelling of the cam is followed by rise and dwell and subsequently by return and dwell as shown in Fig.

Dwell-Rise-Return-Dwell Follower motion

Figure: Dwell-Rise-Dwell-Return-Dwell Follower motion

Return of the follower is by a fall, the motion may be


Figure: Return of the follower is by a fall, the motion may be
known as Dwell-Rise-Dwell (D-R-D).

Classification according to manner of constraint of the follower:

To reproduce exactly the motion transmitted by the cam to the follower, it is necessary that the cam and follower remains in touch at all speeds and at all times. The cams can be classified according to the manner in which this is achieved.

1. Pre-loaded Spring Cam: A pre-loaded compression spring is used for the purpose of keeping the contact between the cam and the follower.

2. Positive-drive Cam: In this type, constant touch between the cam and the follower is maintained by a roller follower operating in the groove of a cam. The follower cannot go out of this groove under the normal working operations. A constrained or positive drive is also obtained by the use of a conjugate cam.

3. Gravity Cam: If the rise of the cam is achieved by the rising surface of the cam and the return by the force of gravity or due to the weight of the cam, the cam is known as a gravity cam. However, these cams arc not preferred due to their uncertain behavior.

This is all about the classification of the cams. In next tutorial, we will learn about the classification of follower. Hope you enjoyed it, Please comment if you feel any difficulty in understanding the topics covered in this tutorial.


1. Theory of Mechanisms and Machines By C. S. Sharma, Kamlesh Purohit

2. Theory of Machines by SS Rattan

Tutorials of Cams:

Part 1:  Kinematics of Machines Tutorials : Introduction of Cams

10 Responses to “Kinematics of Machines Tutorials : Classification of cams and followers”

  1. yogesh

    nice bt nt sufficient

  2. yogesh

    nice but not sufficient

  3. Rajeev ullatt

    good ,satisfactory….

  4. blesson

    Need the procedure to draw various cam profiles!!

  5. admin

    Will post it shortly.

    Thanks for the comment.

  6. aditi monga

    confused with diagrams in the section of classification of cams on the basis of movement of the follower….

  7. admin

    try some youtube videos. Will post them in future.

  8. Vivek

    Figures of DRRD and DRDRD are interchanged.
    So,please correct it.

  9. admin

    Thanks a lot for point this. I will correct it soon.

  10. admin

    I corrected it. Please Check.

    Thanks again.

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