Most people have a deep appreciation for casters that they may not even know they have. This is because these pivoting rollers make moving any type of load easier, but they work especially well with heavy loads. What you may not realize is that not every caster is designed to be used in every environment. If you are designing a project that needs to move, you will want to use casters and not wheels, but you may want to consider the material they are made from. Because the material will really make a difference.
Why Choose Casters Over Wheels?
While the words wheels and casters are often used interchangeably, and although they both may roll, they are actually two very different things. Wheels which are most commonly used in conjunction with an axle allows for directional movement of an item. Although they can be directed, or steered to turn, this process takes time to occur.
On the other hand, a caster offers much more flexibility. Their construction includes a wheel which has been mounted inside of a housing along with a special type of bearing which allows the wheel to have a 360 degree range of motion and rotation. This makes pushing, rolling, and turning much easier to do. They come in several different types. These include:
Rigid Casters - These are affixed to a stationary fork, which is oriented to determine the straight line your project will travel in. These types of casters are more restrictive than their swivel cousins.
Swivel Casters - Along with the basic construction of the rigid caster, a swivel joint is added above the fork to a swivel caster. This added joint allows the caster to rotate 360 degrees, which in turn allows your wheel to move in any direction.
Industrial Casters - Can be either rigid or swivel. What sets these apart are the amount of weight they are designed to carry. Industrial casters often have the addition of top plates which allows them to be bolted to the materials, or loads they are carrying.
What Difference Does The Material Make?
Casters come in a wide variety of materials. They can be found in:
- Stainless Steel
Depending on the materials they are constructed from some casters will do a better job in one environment than another.
Plastic or rubber casters are often used in environments that are susceptible to scratching. For example, these are often the types of casters you see on the bottom of office chairs, or on shopping carts. The plastic, or rubber, in their design helps to protect the surface of the floors they are most commonly used on. Soft rubber casters are often used in environments in which equipment needs to be moved quietly, or with reduced impact. You will often see soft rubber casters on equipment used within a hospital environment.
Unfortunately rubbers and plastics do not hold up under high temperatures, and may break down if they are repeatedly exposed to chemicals. Under these conditions you will often see:
- Reduced operating life
- Premature failure
- Increased maintenance
If your casters are going to be used in an environment in which they are going to be exposed to these types of conditions, you may want to choose forged steel casters. These casters, as well as their wheels are forged from a carbon steel which will give them maximum strength and durability. Not only will these hold up to and not be broken down by chemicals, but they will be able to withstand some of the most demanding, abusive industrial environments you are probably going to be able to expose them to. They will be capable of getting your heavier loads to where you need them to be, even if it is over rough, and uneven flooring.
The next time you are looking for casters, ensure you are choosing the ones that will make your life easier, and that means making sure they are made out of the right materials. It is a decision you will not regret.