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A caster wheels(or castor) is an undriven, single, double, or compound wheel that is designed to be attached to the bottom of a larger object (the “vehicle”) to enable that object to be moved. They are available in various sizes, and are commonly made of rubber, plastic, nylon, aluminum, or stainless steel. Caster wheels are used in numerous applications, including shopping carts, office chairs, hospital beds, and material handling equipment. High capacity, heavy duty casters are used in many industrial applications, such as platform trucks, carts, assemblies, and tow lines in plants. Generally, casters operate well on smooth and flat surfaces.
Casters may be fixed to roll along a straight line path, or mounted on a pivot or pintle such that the wheel will automatically align itself to the direction of travel.
According to the functional characteristics, casters can be divided into the following kinds:
A basic, rigid caster consists of a wheel mounted to a stationary fork. The orientation of the fork, which is fixed relative to the vehicle, is determined when the caster is mounted to the vehicle. An example of this is the wheels found at the rear of a shopping cart in North America. Rigid casters tend to restrict vehicle motion so that the vehicle travels along a straight line.
Like the simpler rigid caster, a swivel caster incorporates a wheel mounted to a fork, but an additional swivel joint above the fork allows the fork to freely rotate about 360°, thus enabling the wheel to roll in any direction. This makes it possible to easily move the vehicle in any direction without changing its orientation. Swivel casters are sometimes attached to handles so that an operator can manually set their orientation.
Industrial casters are heavy duty casters that are designed to carry heavy loads, in some cases up to thirty thousand pounds. An Industrial caster may have either a swivel or rigid caster design.
Braking and locking casters
Common inexpensive casters may include a brake feature, which prevents the wheel from turning. This is commonly achieved using a lever that presses a brake cam against the wheel. However a swivel caster is still able to move around slightly, in a small circle rotating around offset distance between the vertical shaft and the center of the locked wheel.