Stainless Steel Casters: The Right Wheels Made The Difference

Autoclave cart

The right caster makes all the difference. And sometimes, that right caster can be hard to find.

Alloy Welding and Fabricating's client, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, came to them needing a special cart. What made this cart special for Alloy wasn't that it was entirely stainless, or that it needed to be FDA compliant. What made it special was where it was to be used.

An Autoclave is designed to completely clean and disinfect any hard surfaced piece of equipment. In the pharmaceutical industry, it's vital to keep equipment surgically clean. Autoclaves work by introducing steam, kept under pressure, into a chamber at approximately 270 degrees Fahrenheit. This kills any bacteria and neutralizes any virus that is on the cart.

This pressured steam can create several problems with wheels. Originally the carts had been designed to use a phenolic wheel. Phenolic provides a high capacity, in a hard easy to roll wheel, at a low cost. However, due to the makeup of the substance, cotton fibers in a rubber resin, these wheels perform poorly in an autoclave situation. Once the veneer is compromised, the steam enters the wheel and the cotton fibers expand, causing the wheel to chunk out. This also, can potentially cause an unsafe condition as it provides a place for bacteria to grow. The second caster, provided by the end user, was a hard plastic wheel that "flat-spotted" after a few autoclave cycles. Alloy Welding contacted Conveyer & Caster – Equipment for Industry for a solution. The two had been long time partners on other projects. Conveyer & Caster's engineering team and Alloy Welding reviewed the situation. In order to make sure that the client was satisfied, the wheel and rig all had to withstand the heat and moisture of the autoclave, without failing, rusting or seizing.

44 series stainless rig with a solid urethane wheel and delrin bearing

In the end a solution was found. A fiber-glass filled nylon wheel in a stainless steel institutional rig was recommended, pictured on above equipment. For heavy duty applications, although non-autoclave, the 44 series stainless rigs were utilized with a solid urethane wheel and a delrin bearing, pictured below.

According to Sandy, of Alloy Welding, "In this ever changing world you [Conveyer & Caster] make my job of getting the right caster easier. You have no idea how many times you have helped us out!"

For help choosing the right caster call the experts at Conveyer & Caster – Equipment for Industry at 800.836.0630.

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