There are many different factors to consider when picking the right caster for your endeavors. A caster consists of a mount and a wheel, and both of these elements come in a wide variety. Treads, materials, proportions, and load ratings are not the same with every caster. Also, maneuverability isn’t the only aspect of a caster wheel. How loud the wheel is, how easily it gets damaged, how it’s maintained, and many other details must be considered.
A caster wheel’s effectiveness comes down to its raw ingredients. Softer materials generally won’t be as harmful to your flooring, won’t shake as much, and won’t make as much noise. Harder materials generally won’t require as much force to get rolling and won’t be as likely to lose momentum over time.
Caster wheel materials don’t just boil down to hardness and softness. There are many different elements a wheel can be made from, and each element has its own utility. Cast iron can last a long time on concrete and carry heavy materials with ease. Nylon can withstand most environmental conditions and solvents. Polyurethane wheels are safe on most floors, provide cushioning for your vehicle, and can handle most chemicals. Casters can be made with many other materials as well.
The width and diameter of a caster wheel will greatly affect its application. Greater diameters are generally better for noise reduction, motion, and carrying heavy weight capacities. However, if the load is stacked high up on your vehicle, a high-diameter wheel can become less stable, since a high diameter means a high center of gravity. While larger wheels are generally better, there are cases where you might prefer smaller ones.
Caster mounts generally come as either stems or plates. Stem casters use a rod from the raceway to connect to the object you’d like to move. A stem is best suited for light-duty purposes such as medical equipment or office furniture.
Plate casters are square and flat with a hole in every corner. For mounting, the holes are positioned against your vehicle and bolted in. Plates are best for heavy-duty, industrial applications like carts and dollies.
Weighing Your Options
As there are many different ways to use casters, there are many different ways they’re designed. What works best in one arena might be the worst choice somewhere else. It’s important to look hard at your circumstance, and pay attention to every facet of a caster, before making a pick.