A caster is an assembly that consists of a non-powered wheel and a mount. Generally, caster wheels support and make it easy to maneuver shopping carts, office chairs, and medical beds, among other equipment. Moreover, they are available in numerous designs based on operational requirements, providing mobility options for a wide range of applications.
The applications that utilize caster wheels require precise sizing to accommodate the terrain on which they will be used and the weights they are expected to carry. For instance, heavy loads need casters with thicker wheels, and larger objects need multiple wheels to evenly distribute the loads. Furthermore, caster wheels can be made using varying manufacturing processes, two of which we will outline below.
Metal Plate Cutting Process
In this process, the top plate is cut first. This plate is used to mount the caster underneath the object. To begin, a thick sheet of steel is cut by a CNC, a thermal cutting technique that takes advantage of an ionized gas to cut metal. Instead of mechanically cutting into the metal, this technique uses heat to melt the metal. Then, the fork element is cut.
Usually made of steel coil, forks are the arms that hold each side of the wheel axle. The steel coil is rolled out and fed into a punch press machine which breaks it with the yoke shaped dye. Moreover, the broken yoke shaped pieces are situated onto a forming press that bends the piece into the desired shape and makes a circular groove around the hole in the center.
At this point, the hole is filled with steel ball bearings that enable the yoke to swivel. A steel retainer is fitted to keep the bearings in place, while the grooves of the steel cap are filled with ball bearings. The cap is placed onto a punch press with the yoke on top. The press affixes the cap to the yoke’s retainer, so that the ball bearings are wedged in between. Once the top plate has been riveted to the yoke, a steel seal must be put over the retainer and locked into position with a pneumatic press.
Rubber or Nylon Extrusion
The next machining process is accomplished through the extrusion of the wheel material. First, nylon inserts are placed in an injection molding press that melts the neoprene rubber and injects it into the mold. Once cooled to a solid state, the machine ejects rubber wedged wheels which are capable of absorbing shock, reducing noise, and preventing damage to the floor or surface.
Types of Caster Wheels
There are a few common types of caster wheels, some of which we will cover in this section.
Cast Iron and Semi-Steel Caster Wheels
Typically made of gray iron, cast iron and semi-steel caster wheels are abrasion-resistant and long-lasting. They necessitate little effort to start rolling and are designed for high-capacity applications. Additionally, these wheels operate well in environments exposed to mild chemicals or in oily and greasy areas.
Equipped with the highest load capacity, impact resistance, temperature range, and rollability when compared to their counterparts, ferrous wheels are often go-to choices for many applications. Their durable, solid structure is composed of forged steel or cast iron, making it ideal for harsh conditions such as those found in warehouses and manufacturing facilities.
Pneumatic Caster Wheels
Pneumatic caster wheels are made of rubber that has been filled with air to provide ample floor protection. With the capacity to roller over diverse obstacles, pneumatic caster wheels have a wide mobile range over many floor surfaces.
Other Common Types:
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