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Many people stumble for a correct answer or simply don’t know when asked what a caster is. However, once you start noticing casters, you’ll find them in numerous areas of industry, food service, health care, and transportation.

So what exactly is a caster? A caster is an undriven, single, double, or compound wheel mounted to the bottom of a larger object. Its purpose is to make an object move easier.

Many components and intricate features go into the making of casters and caster wheels. Manufacturers and distributors often present confusing, complex descriptions of the final product. Although all this information is at times helpful, it may also be overwhelming. So we’ve made a “Casters 101” glossary for the caster consumer:

  1. Mounting Plate – A flat, horizontal plate with four bolt holes. The caster is bolted or welded onto the equipment.
  2. Raceway – A surface on which bearing balls or rollers rotate.
  3. Ball Bearings – Many construction styles include a single row of ball bearings in a large diameter raceway or two separate rows of ball bearings moving independently through two levels.
  4. Load Plug
  5. Legs – The axle-support brackets extending down from the fork base of a swivel caster or the mounting plate of a rigid caster.
  6. Zerk – A grease fitting
  7. Lock Nut
  8. Axle – A reusable fastening system to assemble casters used in applications where the wheel needs replacement or maintenance.
  9. Wheel – Caster wheels come in various materials, sizes and treads. The caster wheel type is often synonymous with the wheel’s material makeup or specialized tread pattern.
  10. Wheel Bearing – A maintenance-free bearing similar to a ball bearing but using small cylindrical rollers instead.
  11. Top Hat – Provides a smooth inner raceway for the wheel bearings and strengthens the caster by permitting the legs to tighten against it.

Types of Casters

Plate casters, also known as plate mount casters or top plate casters, are engineered to facilitate the movement of objects by attaching them to a caster plate or top plate. Distinguished by their broader surface area for weight distribution and force, they excel in accommodating heavier loads compared to stem mount casters. Caster Concepts only manufactures top plate casters; we do not make stem casters. Plate casters are particularly well-suited for heavy-duty industrial environments, where their robust construction and wide weight distribution make them an ideal choice.

Rigid Casters

A plate caster can be one of two types, either a rigid caster or a swivel caster. A rigid caster consists of a wheel mounted to a stationary fork. The fork’s orientation is fixed when the caster is mounted. These rigid casters utilize straight-line travel, as in rolling forward or backward. An example of this is the wheels found at the rear of a shopping cart. They restrict vehicle motion so that the vehicle travels along a straight line.

Swivel Casters

Like the rigid style caster, a swivel caster wheel is mounted to a fork, but an additional swivel joint above the fork allows it to freely rotate about 360°, enabling the wheel to roll in any direction. This makes it possible to move the vehicle easily without changing its orientation.

Benefits of Using Casters

There are numerous ways to utilize casters. They are used in many applications and benefit whatever job is at hand. Casters and wheels offer a wide variety of solutions within many different applications.

  1. Mobility – A caster and wheel combination gives stationery items ease of motion. Once heavy, immovable objects can glide effortlessly along the ground with a push.
  2. Durability – Casters can perform in harsh environments while maintaining a long life. Caster wheels are able to maneuver over rough surfaces. With the right caster, debris-ridden, industrial floors are of little concern. Strong wheel molds resist debris and maintain smooth working order, while forged steel endures every bump. Many industrial casters and wheels also have a high heat tolerance and can withstand extreme temperatures.
  3. Ergonomics – Ergonomics is the science of designing the job, equipment, and workplace to fit the worker. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can develop over time and lead to long-term disability. Certain casters with the correct ergonomic composition can ensure consistent ease of use.

Caster Concepts is a leader in manufacturing industrial casters and caster wheels. We strive to bring you the most robust and durable casters and wheels available. Every order is custom-made to fit the exact specifications of your application. For further information and a custom beyond standard solution, please call 517-680-7950 or email