Know Your Industrial Equipment: Casters and Their Various Applications
Casters are pivoting rollers attached to the bottom of trailers, furniture, and portable machinery to make them more mobile. Commonly found on computer chairs, forklifts, cabinets, and wheelchairs, these rollers are usually made from plastic, rubber, and steel. The material used depends on the desired application and specific environment or floor conditions. Casters must be able to handle obstacles such as cracks and moldings without much difficulty.
Rubber and plastic casters are mostly used for shopping carts or office chairs, while steel casters can be found on heavy industrial equipment. Steel casters can be enhanced to be able to withstand high temperatures and heat created from friction. For example, forged steel casters are able to endure up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Casters also simplify the material handling process by lessening load and friction. Heavy and bulky objects can easily be moved around, thanks to two common types of casters: swivel and rigid casters. A swivel caster, as the name implies, is able to rotate 360 degrees, allowing for freedom of movement. On the other hand, a rigid caster is used for linear (i.e. forward or backward) movement, and is useful in aisles and other environments where limited movement is possible.
Some types of equipment are supported by four casters, usually four swivel casters or a combination of two swivel casters and two rigid casters. More casters can be used, depending on the size of the equipment to be moved. Heavy duty casters carry big loads in the automotive, aerospace, housing, and shipbuilding industries, to name a few.
Casters and wheels may seem to perform a similar function, but they are not the same thing. The simple difference is that a wheel is a round object that rotates on an axle or shaft that passes through the center. Casters, meanwhile, do have wheels as a component, but are housed in a frame, a rig, or a fork.
For material handling purposes, companies like Carolina Material Handling offer all sorts of casters, from light to heavy duty, and wheels for different applications and floor types.
(Source: More about Casters, Thomasnet.com)