What Is a Cam Follower and What Does It Do?


You can find cams everywhere. They are in dishwashers, washing machines, lawn sprinklers, and, of course, cars.

A cam is a vital device that plays a critical role in many industrial settings. It’s what converts rotational motion to linear motion. To do so, it needs to make contact with a cam follower.

Thus, what is a cam follower? Read on to learn more about what it is, and see what this small component does.

What Is a Cam Follower?

A cam follower is a spinning or oscillating machine part that moves in response to the cam’s motion. When the cam moves in a reciprocating motion, the cam follower moves vertically to the axis of the cam. It’s a machine part that moves in tandem with the oscillating or reciprocating cam.

In other words, the driving member is the cam, whereas the driven member is the cam follower. Plus, there’s always a cam follower bearing around. It’s a frame that supports the cam and guides the follower at all times.

Nowadays, there are more options with hybrid designs like greaseless cam followers.

Cam and Follower Functions

A cam-follower mechanism aids in distributing forces inside a single machine component. It also achieves spontaneous movement using a cylindrical roller in a machine component.

Because the thickness of a cam follower is greater than that of a bearing, it can take in more shock. Thus, this aids in improving a machine component’s mechanical efficiency.

Furthermore, the system works well in soda machine and plane applications. Conveyor belts also use this mechanism because it’s adaptable.

Cam and Follower Mechanism Applications

You already know that there’re many applications to a cam and follower mechanism. So, let’s list them all down.

  • Opens and closes the outlet and intake valve using the camshaft in an engine
  • A part of a hydraulic system
  • Used in automated machinery
  • Used in printing machines
  • Used in textiles and agricultural equipment
  • Used in machines that cut gears
  • Used in automatic lathe machines
  • Used in wall-clocks

Engineers also use the mechanism to ensure zero or minimal degree of inaccuracy. It’s used in the automotive industry to operate fuel pumps and control valves.

Types of Cam Followers

There are various types of cam followers. The following followers suit many cam motions:

Knife-Edge Cam Follower

Knife-edge followers have a sharp tooth region. They come into direct contact with the cam. Because of its sharp edge, it’s only for slow-speed applications.

Roller Cam Follower

Roller cam followers are for high-speed applications because of their smooth contact. These types experience wear and tear less than knife-edge cam followers.

Flat-Faced Cam Follower

Flat-face followers are perfect for when there’s a limit in space. They’re also for resisting side thrust.

Radial Cam Follower

A radial follower has a line of movement that goes through the camshaft. In a reciprocating motion, the follower moves in a straight path.

Know More About Cam Followers

Now you know the answer to “What is a cam follower?” It may be small, but it drives valves for most engines. Without it, most industries would not exist today.

Did you enjoy learning more about cams and followers? If you want to learn more about similar topics, check out the rest of our content.