Machine element refers to an elementary component of a machine. These elements consist of three basic types:
  • Structural components such as frame members, bearings, axles, splines, fasteners, seals, and lubricants,
  • Mechanisms that control movement in various ways such as gear trains, belt or chain drives, linkages, cam and follower systems, including brakes and clutches, and
  • Control components such as buttons, switches, indicators, sensors, actuators and computer controllers.
While generally not considered to be a machine element, the shape, texture and color of covers are an important part of a machine that provide a styling and operational interface between the mechanical components of a machine and its users.
Machine elements are basic mechanical parts and features used as the building blocks of most machines. Most are standardized to common sizes, but customs are also common for specialized applications.