Caster Material Considerations

Caster Material ConsiderationsCasters are useful for many different tasks, but no one caster is the best choice for all applications. Many things come into consideration such as the floor type, environmental conditions, load capacities, and even mounting preference. In many of these considerations, you will want to think about what the right caster material is for your unique job. There can be a lot to think about and consider, but the knowledgeable and dedicated team at Douglas Equipment has the know how to help you make the right decision.

What Type of Wheel Material Do You Need?

Casters need wheels, and the choice of wheel material is one of the biggest decisions when picking the right caster for the task at hand. Will the wheel material mark the floor? Will the material wear prematurely due to the conditions you want to use it in? Will the caster wheel damage the floor? These are all questions to address when making your decision.

There are many different wheel materials to choose from, and some suppliers have wheel materials specially designed for their products that are not available anywhere else. With this wide variety, it is easy to find a caster wheel material to satisfy any requirements you have. Here are a few of the most common types of wheel material available, including some information on their properties:

  • Metal: With the highest capacity and tensile strength, these wheels are popular for high heat applications. For heavy applications metal wheels, including steel and cast iron, are one of the most popular options. They provide easy rolling, but do not offer floor protection on soft flooring. Load capacities can be very high with these wheels.
  • Rubber: Another very common material, these long wearing wheels are widely used on industrial equipment and can be molded onto iron, aluminum or plastic centres. This application is called Mold-on rubber and provides the soft tread of rubber with the hard backing of the wheel centre.
  • Polyurethane: Carrying higher loads than rubber, and also outlasting it, they offer protection for your floor and quiet operation. Polyurethane is liquid cast onto cast iron, aluminum or forged steel centres.
  • Nylon/Plastic: For easy rolling, chemical resistance and high capacity these casters can’t be beat. The plastic composition allows these to be used where other wheel materials would be worn away by harsh chemicals. They include Nylon, Phenolic or Polyolefin materials and can have very high load capacities.
  • Pneumatic/Solid/Semi: These wheels work well on rough and uneven surfaces and provide the best cushioning in these terrains. Often offering larger wheel diameters for easier, rolling these are the preferred wheel type of outdoor applications on soft surfaces such as grass. They turn quietly and protect softer floors and outdoor surfaces.

What Type of Material Finish Do You Need?

Along with the wheels, a caster is made up of many other components. Wheels, forks, axles and brakes are all components of a caster, and provide much of the structural strength the caster needs to work well. Just like with the wheel materials the environment can lead you to choose one type of material or another to suit your needs.

The use and environment that your caster will be exposed to can affect not only the base material of the caster parts, but also the surface finish of those parts. In an environment that is high in heat and humidity, you would not want to use a bare steel without some sort of coating like passivation. Here are a few of the common caster materials and types of applications they are suited to:

  • Steel: One of the most common materials for forks, axles, plates and stems is steel. Steel is used because it is a very common metal with great strength and durability. Steel comes in many different varieties such as forged steel and plate steel so it can be used in different ways for whatever particular caster component is being made. Additionally, steel can have many different surface finishes applied that will offer protection from rust and corrosion such as zinc plated finish, nickel plated finish, chrome plated finish, and passivized steel. All offer good corrosion resistance and provide a superb looking finish.
  • Cast Iron: Another common material for the components of a caster is cast iron. Iron can be cast into whatever shape is desired for the component in question, and is extremely durable and strong after casting. Cast iron can also be machined to very precise final dimensions if required and still retain its strength and durability. The one issue with cast iron is that it is difficult to make corrosion resistant for applications where this is a problem.
  • Plastic: With advances in plastic development, there are now casters that use a very durable plastic, such as polyamide, for the outer caster materials such as forks. These materials, while not as strong as steel or iron, are completely rust free. For high humidity applications such as hospital carts that need to be put into a disinfecting cubicle, this is much more desirable than the corrosion resistance that is available for the steel coating mentioned above. When the coating is scratched or damaged, the material underneath can become exposed to humidity causing rust, a situation that is not a concern with the plastic materials.

When You Need the Knowledge and Experience Douglas Equipment Can Help

Douglas Equipment has been in the business of quality casters and material handling equipment for almost 60 years. Our dedicated service team has the knowledge and experience it takes to help you find the right caster made from the right material that will meet any application you have. If you need casters shipped anywhere in the entire United States, South America, or the Caribbean, Douglas Equipment has the capability to do this from our location in Miami. We are confident that we can help you find the right type of caster at a price that is affordable.

If you are local to South Florida, call us at 305-888-3700. National customers can call us toll free at 800-451-0030. If you prefer to ask us a question through our website we can also be contacted online, and one of our service professionals will get back to you as soon as possible with the help and advice you need. We are ready to serve you with answers to all your questions on caster or any other material handling equipment needs.