What Is the Difference Between Wheels and Casters?

Roura Material Handling Inc has been providing industrial equipment solutions since 1915. We have served industries in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, milling, and waste management. While we focus on supplying self-dumping hoppers for material management needs, we also offer high-quality components for other equipment.

Our removable casters and ductile iron wheels can be installed on your existing hardware to improve functionality. We also have polyurethane wheels that protect your floors from damage. Not all casters and wheels are the same. Discover important differences and learn about components you can use for your business.

What Exactly Is a Wheel?

A wheel is one of the six classical simple machines. The origin of this device is unknown, but its importance was first recognized by the ancient Greek philosopher Archimedes. Engineers have studied and incorporated wheels into new technological designs for thousands of years. It is one of the key building blocks of civilization.

Simply put, a wheel is a round object with a hole in the middle for an axle or spindle. It is made to roll on a flat stable surface like the ground or a track. This dramatically reduces friction of an object and allows heavier things to be moved with much less energy.

How Are Casters Different Than Wheels?

Many confuse the term “caster” with the term “wheel,” but the two are not the same devices. The wheel is limited in that it only spins on a single axis. It can only roll in one direction at a time. Casters incorporate wheels into their designs, but they are a bit more sophisticated. A caster includes the mounting system that holds the wheel in place. Some casters swivel and others are fixed.

Casters can be found just about everywhere in office and industrial environments. An object mounted on a set of casters will roll in a straight line or in different directions. Furniture, tool boxes, heavy machinery, and waste disposal bins outfitted with casters can be moved as needed.

Combining Swivel and Fixed Casters

In most industrial applications, casters are installed onto equipment in sets of two and four. To achieve the best balance between maneuverability and stability, two rear casters are swivel design while the two front casters are fixed.

A swivel caster has a rotating mount. This allows the wheel to spin in a complete circle that is perpendicular to the rotation of the wheel’s axis. This facilitates a change of direction of the rotating axis of the wheel itself. An object on swivel casters can be pushed in any direction along the ground.

Fixed casters are secured in place. They do not rotate or allow the wheels to change directions. This keeps one side of the object predictably pointed in a direction, but the other side can be steered to wherever the operator wishes to go.

The Common Types of Wheels and Casters We Supply

Casters must do more than just spin and roll. They also support the weight of the object, and they must move over the surface of the ground or floor without interruption. Construction materials of the casters and wheels must meet the needs of the application.

At Roura Material Handling Inc, we have several options:

  • Ductile Iron – Our strongest and most durable wheel, it is designed for rough surfaces and heavy loads.
  • Polyurethane Coated– This is strong steel wheel wrapped with polyurethane. It supports industrial equipment but does not damage interior floors.
  • Phenolic – This is a synthetic wheel for light industrial uses. It is good for offices and does not mark floors.
  • Polyolefin – These wheels are easy to roll and resist damage from shocks and falls.
  • Rubber Tired – An iron center is coated in rubber for smooth quiet rolling. They may leave marks on floors.

It is important to fit the style of caster to the needs of your operation. Heavier equipment requires sturdier casters. If the material is too weak, the casters will distort or break. Some floors cannot hold up to the pressures placed on them from the wheels of the casters.

Our Removable Caster Pads

Maintenance is always necessary at some point. Even the strongest mechanical parts wear out and require replacement. Divots in the surface of the wheels can make them harder to roll. Damage to the caster swivel components decreases stability and maneuverability.

There are also times when a piece of equipment should be customized for new applications. If the rolling surface is different in a new part of the factory or if a machine is repurposed for another process, the wheels could be inappropriate.

The Roura removable caster pad makes it easy to swap out sets of casters. A mounting surface is secured to the actual hardware of the equipment. The base of the caster slides into grooved tracks and is secured by a locking bolt. They are held securely and can be slipped off for inspection, repair, or customization with a single tool.

Ordering New Casters

Your equipment is supposed to make your industrial processes easier and most cost effective. Pushing around equipment on worn wheels is a struggle you don’t need. Upgrade with new casters to improve the functionality of your machinery.

At Roura Material Handling Inc, we have the replacement parts you need to improve or restore your equipment. Whether you simply need a single caster for a damaged unit or an entire set, we can help. Look over our inventory of casters and options for your parts. Give us a call at 800-968-9070 or send us a message.