When you peruse a caster catalog, you will notice a wide variety of options in materials, sizes, and more. While plenty of things must be considered when choosing a caster, the one that may be the most important in meeting safety regulations is the style. The two candidates you have to choose from are swivel and rigid. Here are the most noticeable benefits and drawbacks of these options and when they are most commonly used.
Rigid casters don’t turn. Instead, they roll forward and backward, and you are unable to steer them. While this limits your maneuverability, these casters can handle hefty loads. Therefore, they are common when needed to do one job and move items from one spot to another. Often, these are used on carts in the tilt diamond pattern that allows for rotations but not a sideways movement. These are also used to mobilize pallets that get pushed with a stick.
Swivel casters rotate and change direction. These have ball bearings in a raceway that allow the wheels to swivel even when the cart or piece of equipment is loaded down. When using modern, kingpinless varieties, you can expect these casters to last as long as their rigid counterparts. However, they are challenging to set in motion. Additionally, it is often difficult to move them in a straight line over long distances. Nevertheless, these are the way to go when you are working in tight spaces and don’t need to move very far.
Sometimes, you are going to need to be able to roll in straight lines and change directions. When this is the case, you should consider a configuration that combines both rigid and swivel casters. The most popular configuration that gives you this combined benefit is using swivel wheels at the front of a cart and rigid at the back. However, keep in mind that these can’t carry the hefty loads that four rigid wheels can. You can see an example of this situation in grocery store carts.
Rigid, swivel, and combinations all have benefits and drawbacks that make them attractive in different situations. Keep these characteristics in mind whenever you are deciding on a caster style for your application. Whatever style you decide on, make sure that it meets all of the needs that pop up in your shop. Otherwise, you could end up with carts and movable workstations that are not useful for your application.