HomeContact and Non Contact Forces: Understanding Their Types With Examples

Contact and Non Contact Forces: Understanding Their Types With Examples


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Whether you see a horse pulling a rope, or a boy pushing a trolley, speed and acceleration are all examples of forces and motion in your daily life. Objects move as a result of force and motion, yet they can also remain still. Motion is just movement, yet it requires a force to move.

Contact and non contact forces are the two types of forces.

What is Force?

Before moving to the formula or definition of contact and non-contact force, let’s first reveal the definition of force. Force is defined as the pushing or pulling of an item. Push and pull are caused by the interaction of two things. Force is an external agent that can change the state of rest or motion of a certain body.

Newton is the SI unit of Force (N). It has a direction and magnitude. The direction of the force is the place where force is applied, and the application of force is the location where force is applied. Force can also be denoted by terms such as stretch and crush. A spring balance may be used to calculate force.

Formula for Force

The vector product of acceleration (a) and mass (m) expresses the quantity of force (m). The force equation or formula can be stated quantitatively as follows:

F = ma

What are the Effects of Force?

In physics, motion is defined as a change in place concerning time. In its most basic form, motion refers to the movement of a body. 

Typically, the motion may be defined in one of two ways:

  1. Change in direction
  2. Change in speed

The force has various effects, some of which are listed here.

  • It has the capability of either stopping or slowing a moving body.
  • Force might cause a still body to move.
  • It might also cause the size and form of a moving body as well as its direction.
  • It has the capability of increasing the speed of a moving body.

Different Types of Forces 

There are multiple forces at work than just push and pull. Scientists divide all of these forces into two categories. The first group is contact forces, which occur when two things physically interact via touching. The second type is to act at a distance, which occurs when two things interact but are not physically touching.

Contact Forces

These forces, as the name implies, act between things that are close to each other. In layman’s terms, a contact force exists between two bodies that are physically contacting each other. The contact forces act between the two surfaces at the point of direct contact. Contact forces are governed by Newton’s principles of motion. 

These are present everywhere, and they are responsible for most of the macroscopic interaction between two things. A contact is formed between the two objects in all of these forces when picking up a book, clicking on phone keys, dragging a cart, and striking a ball with a bat.

As a result, these forces might be either continuous (pushing a cart) or discontinuous (When a fast-moving bat strikes a fast-moving ball, an impulse is created.). As observed in a block held over an inclined plane, Contact force components can be decomposed along the orthogonal axis. 

The normal force operates perpendicular to the block’s surface, whereas the friction force is parallel. In our daily lives, we come into touch with a variety of contact forces, including:

  1. Muscular Force
  2. Friction Force
  3. Tension Force
  4. Drag Force
  5. Normal Force
  6. Air resistance
  7. Surface Tension
  8. Upthrust or Buoyancy

Explanation of a few examples of Contact Forces

Frictional Force

Friction is created when an object travels over a surface. The friction force might be either sliding or static. Friction is determined by the properties of the two contacting surfaces. A book is sliding on the table, for example, or a ball rolling on the floor.

Normal Force

This is the force applied to an object when it comes into touch with another stable object. A normal force is typically delivered horizontally between two objects in contact—a book on a table, for example, or a person leaning against a wall.

Tension force

A tension force is a force that is conveyed via a rope, string, wire, or cable when it is pulled firmly by the item on the other end. This force is transmitted along the length of the wire or rope. A cable vehicle or climbing a mountain with a rope are two examples.

Applied Force

A pushing or pulling force is applied to an item. A human or another item applies a force on an object in this case. One example is a person pushing a chair to the other side of the room.

Air Resistance force

This is a frictional force that things experience when they are in the air. The Air Resistance force frequently resists the movement of the item. It is evident for items moving at high speeds in the air. As an example, consider an aeroplane or a parachute.

Spring force

Spring is a metal elastomeric device, when pushed or pressed, returns to its original shape. When a spring is stretched or squeezed, it produces force. Spring force is appealing when the spring is extended and is repulsive when it is compressed. Trampolines, diving boards, and other such items are examples.

Magnetic force

Magnetic force is the force that results from attraction or repulsion between the poles of a magnet.

Non-Contact Forces

Non-contact forces are those that act between two bodies that are not in contact with each other. These forces operate between two bodies that are not physically touching. The amount of these non-contact forces between two bodies varies with distance, although the ideal range of non-contact forces is infinite. Their strength, however, grows when the items are brought closer together. We encounter a variety of non-contact factors.

Concluding with a Perfect Example

A student at school throws a ball into the air; the ball reaches a specific height and then falls back to the ground. Which forces are at work on the ball during the process?

Let’s crack this!

The child adds muscle power to the ball to throw it higher, and the force of gravity, and air resistance, operate on the ball continually. Muscular force and air resistance are contact forces in this case, but the gravitational force is a non-contact force.

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