Pneumatic tires are a popular wheel option in industrial caster applications. Pneumatic tires are wheels with a metal hub with a rubber tire mounted to it. Instead of being solid in nature, the tire is filled with air or foam to the desired pressure level to achieve the appropriate load and deflection characteristics.

There are many benefits to using this type of wheel, as well as a few drawbacks. This article will discuss the pros and cons of using pneumatic tires in your caster application.

Pros

Pneumatic tires have many benefits in industrial caster applications. The main benefit is the ability to absorb shock loads from impacts and cushion the load.

  • Excellent shock absorption – Pneumatic wheels are ideal for applications with uneven or bumpy terrain, or, where the cart contents must not be subjected to sudden shock loads.
  • Utilized for on-pavement/off-road applications – These wheels lend themselves well to applications that require both off-road and on-pavement operation as they can absorb the unevenness of off-road terrain.
  • Improves working conditions by reducing noise – Pneumatic tires are also quiet in use because of the soft rubber tread and shock absorbing ability. They can also reduce loud noises that can damage hearing while improving working conditions.
  • Won’t damage the flooring – The nature of the softer wheel also protects floors from scratches and other damage.

Cons

  • Harder to Move – There are also some factors to consider before determining if a pneumatic wheel is right for your application, such as the amount of push force required to get them moving. Due to the large footprint and deflection of the air-filled tire, the initial push force is higher. This large footprint also makes the wheels harder to swivel, and often the caster will require a longer swivel lead.
  • Air pressure must be monitored – Another drawback to pneumatic wheels is the increased maintenance of having to monitor air pressure. These types of wheels are easy to puncture, which results in flats.  Filling the wheels with polyurethane foam reduces the puncturing, and turns it into a semi-pneumatic wheel. Because they don’t require air, they won’t go flat, but this does reduce some of the wheel’s cushioning effects.

Pneumatic vs. Poly

Adding polyurethane into the mix can be a cost-effective choice under the right circumstances, especially in indoor applications.

Pneumatic casters are still the best possible choice for loads that will need to move outdoors or over imperfections in flooring. They provide better traction, a smoother ride, and less friction than their counterparts, even when the terrain is bumpy and rough.

Polyurethane casters have one huge benefit over their pneumatic counterparts: load capacity. For example, if a caster must have a capacity of 5000 pounds, the polyurethane caster to support such a weight would be much smaller than a pneumatic caster with the same capacity.

In short, pneumatic tires can provide some great benefits such as shock-absorption and the ability to go off-road. The drawbacks are that they are a little harder to get moving, and their extended leads also present an increased chance of flutter. However, considering these factors when choosing a pneumatic tire, greatly increases your chances of success.