Tips for the Selection of Wheel Material
Poly wheel materials by Caster Concepts
The selection of wheel covering on an industrial caster is a crucial part of selecting a product that will provide many years of superior performance. The selection of an inappropriate material can lead to safety issues, inferior performance, or damage to the associated floors and tracks. Below I have outlined 5 key points that must be considered prior to putting an industrial caster or wheel into service. If you are unable to work through these tips, do not get frustrated but instead contact a reputable caster and wheel manufacturer to assure proper selection (Caster Concepts)
Running Surface Composition– The first consideration of wheel material is a full evaluation of the floor conditions and the composition of the floor or track that the wheel will run on. If the wheel is harder than the surface that it is running on, there will be an undesirable degradation of the surface to the point that it requires repair. While a forged steel wheel may be a consideration based on the load to be carried, if the surface the wheel is running on is a cement floor, the floor will not survive regular usage. On the other hand a softer material, such as polyurethane, which is softer than the cement surface will not cause any floor damage and while not carrying as heavy as a load for a comparable size, can in fact be up-sized to fit the requirement. Another situation where surface consideration is critical is a track application. It is very important that the surface of the track (generally hardened to improve wear ability) is slightly harder than the wheel. This slight mismatch of wheel and track hardness will cause gradual wear of the wheel while allowing the track to have a long useful life.
Ergonomics– If the application is a hand application the amount of force it takes to move the cart is impacted by the wheel material. As a general rule the harder the material the easier it will roll or swivel. The key is matching the material of the wheel with the floor composition as covered above. If polyurethane is an acceptable material, closely evaluate the type of urethane as the composition may have a significant impact on ergonomic issues. There are a variety of materials with a variety of durometers to meet your needs.
Durability-Certainly the product life is an essential consideration when choosing the wheel make up. Durability is the product of two underlying issues. The tougher the material the longer the wheel will last. Choose the class of material that best fits your need and then within that class choose the material that fits your durability needs.
Cleanliness– Housekeeping of the floor is another issue that impacts what wheel material is going to work the best. If there is metallic debris on the floor, a steel wheel may survive the debris but the debris will cause the material to stop the wheel from smooth operation. When using polyurethane wheels, poor housekeeping will lead to the material becoming embedded in the wheel while causing premature destruction of the wheel tread.
Prioritizing of All Factors– The final suggestion is that you must prioritize the above issues and decide which is more important. If the lifetime of the floor is your number one priority then that immediately eliminates many wheel compositions. If the next issue is ergonomic performance then you need a wheel that does not destroy the floor while it provides ergonomic performance that meets the defined needs. Next select the durability of the wheel material that meets the aforementioned criteria and provides the highest level of durability. While going through this elimination process ask that floors in the facility be cleaned to avoid the last issue that impacts wheel life and that is debris left on the floor and embedding in the surface of the wheel.
Caster Concepts engineering staff is ready, willing and able to assist in determining the wheel material that meets the criteria that are most important to your application (Conceptual Innovations Engineering). The proper selection of wheel material prior to putting the caster into the application will provide you with a satisfying experience with your product. Adequate time in the planning process will pay long term dividends.