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Radial vs. Axial: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Radial relates to a radius or a pattern spreading out from a center; axial refers to anything related to an axis or aligned with a central line.
Radial vs. Axial

Key Differences

Radial designs emanate from a central point and extend outwards in all directions, like the spokes on a bicycle wheel. In contrast, axial designs are related to a straight line that acts as a pivot point, like the axle of a wheel. Radial symmetry can be observed in objects where the design repeats around a central point, whereas axial symmetry involves symmetry around a central axis.
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Nov 08, 2023
In engineering, radial forces are those that act along the radius of a circle, moving outward or inward from the center. Axial forces, however, are parallel to the axis and can be either tensile or compressive. A radial engine's pistons extend outward from the central crankshaft, unlike an axial engine, where components align along a single axis.
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When discussing flow within pipes or systems, radial flow refers to movement that goes from the center outward or vice versa, perpendicular to the axis. Axial flow moves parallel to the axis of the pipe or equipment. Radial turbines are designed to extract energy from the fluid moving out from the center, whereas axial turbines extract energy from fluid flowing along their axis.
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In anatomy, radial pertains to structures like the radial artery, which radiates from the central axis of the body. Axial refers to structures along the central axis of the body, such as the axial skeleton, which includes the skull, spine, and rib cage. Radial symmetry in biology is a body plan that includes multiple similar parts around a central point, but axial symmetry involves two similar body parts that are mirror images over an axis.
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Radial balance in art gives the impression of equal visual weight distribution around a central point. Axial balance, however, refers to the distribution of visual elements along a central axis, creating a sense of stability and order. Radial layouts are common in round tables or arenas, allowing for equal view or access from the center, whereas axial layouts are found in linear structures like corridors or trains.
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Comparison Chart

Orientation

Around a central point, outward
Along a central line, lengthwise
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Forces

Moving outward or inward from the center
Parallel to the axis, tensile or compressive
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Symmetry

Symmetrical around a center
Symmetrical along an axis
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Engineering Applications

Radial engines, radial tires
Axial fans, axial pumps
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Flow Direction

Perpendicular to the axis
Parallel to the axis
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Radial and Axial Definitions

Radial

Spreading from a center
The radial pattern of the mosaic was mesmerizing.
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Axial

Relating to an axis
Axial symmetry was evident in the building's design.
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Radial

Extending like rays
The radial streets extend from the city square.
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Axial

In the direction of an axis
The axial load on the beam was calculated for safety.
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Radial

Pertaining to radial bones or arteries
The radial artery is often used for checking the pulse.
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Axial

Involving an axis in botany or zoology
Axial flowers grow along the plant's stem.
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Radial

Relating to a radius
Radial distance is measured from the center of the circle.
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Axial

Positioned on or around an axis
The axial skeleton supports the body's frame.
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Radial

Of, relating to, or arranged like rays or radii.
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Oct 19, 2023

Axial

Pertaining to axial flow
The axial fan efficiently moves air along the axis.
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Radial

Radiating from or converging to a common center.
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Oct 19, 2023

Axial

Relating to, characterized by, or forming an axis.
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Oct 19, 2023

Radial

Having or characterized by parts so arranged or so radiating.
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Oct 19, 2023

Axial

Located on, around, or in the direction of an axis.
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Radial

Moving or directed along a radius.
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Axial

Relating to, resembling, or situated on an axis
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Radial

(Anatomy) Of, relating to, or near the radius or forearm.
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Axial

(anatomy) Belonging to the axis of the body, or to the axis of any appendage or organ
The axial skeleton
The axial bones
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Radial

Developing symmetrically about a central point.
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Axial

(botany) In the same direction as the axis, parallel to the axis.
The secondary xylem usually consists of axial and radial elements.
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Oct 19, 2023

Radial

A radial part, such as a ray, spoke, or radius.
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Oct 19, 2023

Axial

(chemistry) oriented close to the axis running through the centre of a cyclohexane ring, as opposed to equatorial. See w:Axial bond.
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Oct 19, 2023

Radial

A radial tire.
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Axial

(ornithology) A flight feather that appears between the primaries and secondaries on some birds.
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Radial

Arranged like rays that radiate from, or converge to a common centre.
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Axial

(dentistry) A plane parallel to the surface of a tooth.
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Radial

Moving along a radius.
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Axial

Of or pertaining to an axis; of the nature of, or resembling, an axis; around an axis.
To take on an axial, and not an equatorial, direction.
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Oct 19, 2023

Radial

(anatomy) Of, or relating to the radius bone.
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Oct 19, 2023

Axial

Belonging to the axis of the body; as, the axial skeleton; or to the axis of any appendage or organ; as, the axial bones.
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Oct 19, 2023

Radial

(entomology) Of, or relating to the radius vein, and/or the wing areas next to it.
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Axial

Of or relating to or resembling an axis of rotation
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Radial

(botany) Developing uniformly on all sides.
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Axial

Relating to or attached to the axis;
Axial angle
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Radial

A radial tire / radial tyre.
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Axial

Situated on or along or in the direction of an axis
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Oct 19, 2023

Radial

Of or pertaining to a radius or ray; consisting of, or like, radii or rays; radiated; as, (Bot.) radial projections; (Zool.) radial vessels or canals; (Anat.) the radial artery.
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Radial

Pneumatic tire that has radial-ply casing
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Radial

Relating to or near the radius;
The radial aspect of the forearm
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Radial

Relating to or moving along or having the direction of a radius;
Radial velocity
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Radial

Issuing in rays from a common centerXs; relating to rays of light;
Radial heat
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Radial

Arranged like rays or radii; radiating from a common center;
Radial symmetry
A starlike or stellate arrangement of petals
Many cities show a radial pattern of main highways
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Radial

In botany, arranged like spokes
The plant's radial leaves provided ample shade.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does axial mean in anatomy?

In anatomy, axial refers to structures along the central axis of the body.
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What's an example of axial in nature?

The human body is an example, with its axial skeleton.
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Is axial alignment important in construction?

Yes, axial alignment is crucial for load distribution in construction.
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Are radial engines common in cars?

Radial engines are less common in cars and more typical in aircraft.
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Does radial have to do with circles only?

Radial patterns are typically circular but can apply to any design spreading from a center.
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What does radial mean in terms of wheels?

Radial refers to components radiating from the center, like spokes on a wheel.
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Can radial patterns be found in nature?

Yes, radial patterns are common in nature, like in flowers and sea stars.
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Nov 08, 2023

Can designs be both radial and axial?

Yes, some designs incorporate both radial and axial elements for functionality or aesthetics.
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Can axial refer to rotation?

Yes, axial rotation is movement around the central axis.
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Does axial have other meanings outside of physical alignment?

Yes, axial can refer to figurative central points in concepts or processes.
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Nov 08, 2023

Is radial symmetry better for movement?

Radial symmetry is not inherently better for movement; it depends on the organism's environment and needs.
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In what ways is radial used in geography?

Radial can describe the pattern of roads or rivers spreading out from a central point in geography.
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Are radial tires different from standard tires?

Radial tires have reinforcing belts, which is different from the bias-ply construction of standard tires.
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Do artists use radial concepts?

Artists often use radial balance to create visually appealing and dynamic works.
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Are radial fans a thing?

Yes, radial fans exist and move air outwards from the center, perpendicular to the axis.
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Does axial pertain to earth science?

Yes, axial tilt, for example, refers to Earth's inclination along its rotational axis.
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What axial parts are in a car?

Cars have axial parts like the drive shaft, which transmits torque along its axis.
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How do axial forces affect structures?

Axial forces can cause structures to compress or elongate along the axis.
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Nov 08, 2023

Are radial muscles a common term?

Radial muscles are not a standard anatomical term, though radial refers to the radial artery in the forearm.
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Nov 08, 2023

Can you explain axial in relation to movement?

Axial movement refers to motion that occurs in line with or around the body's central axis.
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Nov 08, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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