Caster Wheels: Common Materials

Caster wheels come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and load capacities these days. Every job has unique specifications and for each one there is a caster wheel made to handle them.

So how can you tell where to start when you’re shopping for caster wheels? Here is a breakdown of some of the more common wheel material designs to help you make the right choice for your job.

Rubber

There are several different sub-types of rubber wheels that vary in hardness, and composition. The benefits of rubber wheels are a lower cost than most alternatives and a more cushioned ride.

These are typically the softest of all caster wheels and can absorb shock more readily than their counterparts. When a smooth ride is paramount, this style might work for you.

There are some cons to rubber when compared to alternative materials, though. Rubber wheels are more like to scuff or damage soft flooring, for example.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane wheels typically have a higher load capacity than rubber wheels due to the makeup of the material. They also tend to last a little longer than rubber wheels. Some tests suggest they can last up to three times longer.

There is more flexibility in the formulation of the polyurethane used to build these wheels. That allows manufacturers to make wheels that can be more grip in greasy or oily environments have less roll resistance and more maneuverability than some alternatives.

These factors make these polyurethane wheels, sometimes significantly, more expensive than rubber alternatives. Their versatility has made them among the most popular type of wheel in recent years.

Steel

As these materials get harder, a couple of things also improve. Steel wheels, for example, have even less roll resistance than polyurethane wheels. They also have significantly longer lifespans as they are extremely resistant to abrasion or wear of any kind.

Steel Wheels give the additional benefit of being able to work in extreme conditions such as freezing or excessively heated environments. They can also hold significantly more weight than the softer alternatives. These features make steel wheels especially useful in the manufacturing industry.

Do not consider steel wheels if you have expensive flooring. These are typically reserves for metal or concrete-floored facilities as they can easily damage any softer surfaces, especially when carrying heavy loads.

The wheels can be very expensive relative to either the wood or the polyurethane options and can be considered semi-specialty use items.

The more you know about your needs and how each caster wheel material might meet or failed to meet those needs, the better equipped you’ll be to make the right purchase the first time.

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