The word wheel can have many meanings depending on how it is used. It comes from the Latin language , from the word “broken” , which means to rotate . The wheel is a machine that was invented millions of years ago and that over time has become a fundamental and important instrument mainly for transportation .

What is a wheel?

A wheel is an element that has a circular shape and that is also for mechanical use , which works by turning on a certain axis in order to provoke and improve the movement of some type of machine or vehicle.

  • Definition
  • Wheel characteristics
  • Source
  • Evolution
  • What is a wheel for
  • Functioning
  • Types
  • Importance


The word wheel has several different meanings. From the point of view of mechanics , a wheel is a type of element that has a mechanical operation and that fulfills the function of being able to rotate around a certain axis , the wheel in this case is an emblematic sign of automotive and in fact It is considered one of the most important and momentous inventions in the development of man.

It is important to mention that the term wheel can also be used to refer to the formation of a circle formed by people or things , it is usually used to define cuts in food or to decide the turns that take place within a certain game. The word wheel is even used within the field of communication , for example, to refer to a conversation that will be given by an organization or by an important person , for example, a press conference.

Wheel characteristics

Among the main characteristics of a wheel are the following:

  • The wheel is characterized by having a circular shape .
  • It can rotate on its own axis .
  • It is considered as a type of simple machine .
  • It is essential for the transport of things, animals or people.
  • It turns out to be one of the main components of complex machines .
  • Depending on their use, they have a hole in their central part through which the axis in charge of guiding the movement can be placed .
  • It can also be known as a pulley , and in this case it is used to transmit movements .
  • It is a dependent component , in other words, it will always need a shaft and a support to function properly.


When we think of the ancient inventions of the human being, the first thing we think about is probably the wheel, and this is actually true. The wheel has its origins in the late Neolithic period , around the 5th millennium BC . The first wheels on record were created in Mesopotamia , approximately 7,000 years ago.


When the wheel was invented, it was made not with the aim of improving transportation but rather to work pottery . It was then used as a type of lathe for the manufacture of parts and it was not until many centuries later that the wheel began to be used to move things from one place to another, improving and facilitating transport . The first wheels that were created to transport things were made of wood and had a hole in the central part where a type of axle was inserted .

With the passage of time, more features and objects were added to it and that is how spokes were added , a type of bar with a rigid consistency that allowed the union in the perimeter region with the wheel . These managed to make the wheels lighter. Radios were invented by the Egyptian culture and with them, they made their carriage transports have greater speed . With the invention of bronze and iron, the radii were greatly improved and kept longer.

Thanks to all these improvements and over time, the wheel began to be used in various types of vehicles , mainly those that participated in field work , in the transport of materials and people. By the end of the 19th century , tires had been invented for wheels which were manufactured using rubber , giving it greater resistance and adherence .

What is a wheel for

The wheel often has many uses, all of them important. It serves to facilitate and improve the transport of things in different means of transport such as cars, trucks and boats. It is a means by which the effort that must be made to lift a mass can be considerably reduced , this is the case of pulleys when they are used in other equipment such as elevators, cranes or even water wells.

Thanks to the wheel, it is possible to create a rotary type movement so that a fluid can be mobilized, this is the case of hydroelectric plants , turbines and water mills. They have the ability to transmit rotary movements between shafts as they do in pulley systems, pinions or gears. It then serves so that many devices can be mobilized and function correctly such as in mixers, washing machines, in vehicle gearboxes and many more.


The operation of the wheels is very simple and basic. The wheels do not work by sliding on the ground but rather they rotate around the axles . The friction that occurs occurs only at the exact point where the wheel and axle meet. The wheels need a leverage system , which can be force multipliers or some simple machines to work.


The types of wheels can be classified depending on their use. In this way we find the following types of wheels.

  • Pulley wheel : this type of wheel is used mainly to be able to raise or lower things, it is then a force transmission device. It consists of a wheel that is immobilized by means of its axis on which a rope slides.
  • Wheel for transport : they serve to transport things from one place to another. At the beginning they were made with wood but with the passage of time they evolved to be made using rubber. It is essential for the means of land transport to be able to mobilize.
  • Potter’s wheels : these are used as a kind of lathe and consist of two discs, a large one where the base of the feet is placed and a smaller one where the ceramic piece will be placed.
  • Waterwheels : are used in the mills that are used to draw water but can also be used in the production of wind energy through mills wind .
  • Cogwheels : these are the ones that are part of the gears and work inside a machine. They have a series of teeth that prevent the wheel from slipping while it works.


The wheels are of great importance that has been passed from generation to generation because since they were invented they became a fundamental part of the life of the being human . They are the ones that provide and improve the ability to move and also generate power. It is thanks to them that the means of transport by land can move from one place to another, and in addition, the wheel is a fundamental part of all types of gear , systems that turn out to be necessary to be able to transmit movement , to produce power and to transmit energy in many types of machines.

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