8 Common Difference Between Shaft and Axle

Hi, everyone! Today, we’ll be talking about shafts and axles, specifically focusing on understanding the key differences between the two. Join us to gain insights into the distinctions between shafts and axles.

Shafts and axles play crucial roles in both the manufacturing and automobile industries. While an axle is a specific type of shaft, it operates differently, and we’ll explore these distinctions in detail.

To grasp the disparities between a shaft and an axle, it’s essential to first understand what each entails and where their applications lie. This foundational knowledge will help us appreciate the variations between these two components.

8 Common Difference Between Shaft and Axle
8 Common Difference Between Shaft and Axle

What is Shaft?

The shaft is a common and vital used machine element.  

A shaft is a rotating component, typically with a circular cross-section, and it may be either solid or hollow.

Its primary role is to transfer received power from one location to another, manifesting as torsion or rotational force. Additionally, a shaft provides support for components like pulleys and gears.

While the standard shape is a rod with a circular cross-section, shafts can be customized to other shapes such as square or rectangular, depending on specific requirements.

Shafts are crafted in both solid and hollow forms based on the intended application. Some shafts are designed as pedestals to securely anchor gears, pulleys, bearings, and similar components.

Typically ranging up to 7 meters in length, shafts exhibit diameters spanning from 25 mm to 500 mm, catering to various industrial needs.

Materials of Shaft

Shafts are predominantly crafted from mild steel, although materials like carbon steel and alloy steel—such as nickel, chrome-nickel, and chrome-vanadium—are also employed for enhanced strength, especially in specialized conditions.

Manufacturing of shafts involves hot rolling, followed by precision adjustments through cold-drawing, lathe work, or grinding. The selected materials for shafts should possess favorable properties such as good machinability, responsiveness to heat treatment, and high fatigue and resilience.

Read also: Types of Cutting Tool Materials and Their Properties

Forging is the preferred method for producing large-diameter shafts due to its efficacy in shaping robust components.

What is Axle?

The axle typically takes the form of a non-rotating component with a circular cross-section. Its primary function is to provide support for rotating machine elements like wheels, pulleys, and gears, without transmitting any torque.

Read also: Manufacturing Process of Steel: 6 Methods of Making Steel

Axles are designed to transmit bending moments exclusively. As a stationary machine element, they don’t convey power, speed, or torque and, therefore, are not subjected to tangential or twisting forces. Instead, they bear axial forces or bending moments depending on the specific application.

Read also: Tool Wear: Types, Factor Affecting, Causes and Remedies

In the automobile industry, axles play a critical role by supporting a significant portion of the vehicle’s load. In cars, the axle is the steel rod connecting the front and rear wheels. Both front and rear axles, collectively known as side axles, are integral components responsible for turning the wheels when the driver accelerates the vehicle.

Materials of Axle

Axles are typically constructed from materials such as steel, chrome-molybdenum steel, and carbon steel.

What is the Difference Between Shaft and Axle?

There are the following 8 common differences between shaft and axle.

Shaft Axle
It is a rotating member.   It is a non-rotating member.  
Its primary function is to transmit power. Its primary function is to provide support to parts like a wheel, pulley, drum, etc. It does not transmit power.
It is subject to primary bending and torque.  It is subject to bending moment primarily due to transverse load.  
Its design is more complex than that of the axle.  Its design is simpler than that of the shaft.
The cross-section of the shaft is usually circular because it gives minimum vibration and stress.   The cross-section of the axle may be different such as rectangular, square, circular, etc.  
They are used for electric motors, I.C.  Engine shaft, gear, etc.  They are used in cars, trucks, railway buggies, etc.  
They may or may not be under normal load. It is fitted into the housing by means of bearings.
The shaft is basically divided into two types, the first is the transmission shaft and the second is the machine shaft. The axle is basically divided into three types, the first is the front axle, the second is the rear axle, and the third is the stub axle.


In this discussion, we aim to explore the distinctions between shafts and axles.

I hope you find this post informative and engaging.

Leave a Comment