Wheel Choices


Last month, we started a discussion about casters and the data and decisions that help us create specifications and recommendations.  This month, we are going to talk about wheels, with casters; it’s where the rubber meets the road.  We’re sorry about that.

Bad puns aside, wheel selection is the first and, for many applications, the most critical step.  We categorize wheels into groups based on their tread.  They are:

  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Polyurethane
  • Rubber

 this blog post, we will describe the basic characters, advantages, and disadvantages of each group.

Metal tread wheels

Metal tread wheels are ideal for high capacity industrial applications.  Depending on the material and size, capacity can range as high as 20,000 lbs per wheel.  That being said, these are incredibly hard wheels, so they are only recommended for use on concrete floors.  Further, debris on the floor will cause the wheel to seize, until the debris is removed, so clean floors are a must.

Plastic tread wheels

Plastic tread wheels are one-piece wheels made from phenolic resin, polyolefin or a blended elastomer.  These wheels offer good capacity, ease of rolling and floor protection.  They are, however, generally very noisy.  Certain types, with the proper bearing and rig, are excellent for wash-down applications.  

A spoked, cast-iron wheel

Polyurethane tread wheels

Polyurethane tread wheels are generally two-piece wheels with a plastic or metal hub that has a polyurethane tread bonded to the face.  They can also be a single piece poured wheel.  These wheels are ideal for high capacity applications where noise and floor protection are a priority. They can be quite expensive, and at high speed, tread separation can occur.

Rubber tread wheels

Rubber tread wheels are two-piece wheels with a plastic or metal core.  The tread can either be a vulcanized-milled rubber or a thermoplastic, injection-molded type.  These wheels provide excellent roll ability, quiet operation, and floor protection.  Rubber tread wheels are not known for their capacity, the top end around 600 lbs. per wheel. 

There are a lot of wheels options and there are probably a few that will meet your needs.  We are here to help, give us a call at 844-863-4542 or send us a message.

A polyurethane on aluminum wheel

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