Friction and sliding

How to use this resource

Please download the PDF of this resource using the Download PDF link in the banner above.

Below is an interactives which supports the resource. The interactive can be launched by clicking on its image, or through links in the PDF itself.

Some resources have pre-requisites; where this is the case, you'll be able to access any required resources through the Pre-requisites section.

Topic areas

Mechanical engineering

  • Forces
  • Friction


  • Trigonometry
  • Trigonometric identities


It may be useful to look at the resource ‘Forces, centre of gravity, reactions and stability’ to introduce where forces act on a simple object and the conditions for toppling stability.

Problem statement

There are many situations where knowing whether an item will slide on an inclined plane is
important either for safety or correct operation.

For example, packages moving around a distribution centre may need to be transported on inclined rubber conveyor belts without sliding, but also be delivered to chutes that they should slide down freely. How can an engineer determine whether an object will slide or remain in place on an inclined plane?


Click the image to load Sliding 1. 

The above interactive allows you to tilt an object and see at what angle it will start to slide depending on the applied coefficient of friction (that can be adjusted) between the object and the surface.

Supported by

  • Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Motorola Solutions Foundation