What is the Difference Between a Wheel and a Caster?

A caster is the part of a machine that spins while a wheel spins on an axle of the machine. The wheel is more commonly used on large capacity movers, hand trucks, wheelbarrows, lawnmowers, and wagons than a caster. In purchasing a wheel, for example, a rigid caster wheel, you should consider its bearing capacity, size, and material.

Stainless steel

A stainless steel wheel and caster are perfect for applications that are subjected to frequent washdowns. Stainless steel is highly corrosive-resistant and is especially good for applications that involve cleaning agents, steam, or caustic solutions. These types of casters are commonly found in cleanrooms, medical facilities, and institutional settings. They are also great for food service and laundry trucks, among other uses.

Durometer ratings of a stainless steel wheel and caster can help determine how tough they are. These ratings don’t consider the physical effort required to move a load. Instead, they assume manual operation under ideal conditions. For mechanically powered equipment, a lower capacity rating may be necessary. The best way to determine a stainless steel wheel and caster is to look for ones rated with various conditions, including wet environments.


There are several benefits of polyurethane wheels and casters. Polyurethane wheels have lower friction coefficients than metal or rubber wheels, making them excellent for applications where floor protection is a concern. Metal wheels can cause sliding problems, reducing work efficiency. Polyurethane wheels can withstand various chemicals, including oil and grease. They can even handle the effects of harsh chemicals.

Hamilton TerraTech(tm) polyurethane wheels are designed for general-purpose applications and heavy-duty applications at speeds up to 10 mph. Featuring a semi-steel core, this wheel has a non-marking tread and maintenance-free precision ball bearings. Its softer compound also reduces noise. In addition, the softer tread provides outstanding traction in cold and wet conditions.


If you’ve ever been involved in materials handling, you’ve probably come across the term “rubber wheel and caster.” Although most people think of these parts as wheels, there’s more to them than meets the eye. The key to using these parts properly is to know precisely what they are called. A caster is a molded-rubber cylinder that moves. Casters are designed to move objects quickly and are highly resistant to most chemicals. Due to their high resilience, they are excellent for all types of floor surfaces.

On the other hand, a solid wheel is unbreakable in regular use and can withstand very high temperatures. In addition, formed steel wheels offer higher load capacities, impact strength, and rollability. Nylon and glass-encased casters are solid and durable, often used in hospitals and laboratories. Moreover, they are resistant to oil, grease, and hard impacts. In addition, they’re suitable for use in freezers and tow lines.


When purchasing a caster, you need to know the difference between a swivel wheel and a rigid caster. The two types of casters have different uses. The swivel wheel is easier to maneuver because it can be rotated by a full 180 degrees. On the other hand, a rigid caster cannot be swiveled, which means it will not move as easily as a swivel wheel.

Whether you choose a swivel wheel or a caster depends on your needs. For instance, if you need to move a cart, you must work against rolling resistance and starting resistance. The lower the rolling resistance, the easier it is to move the cart. However, the smaller the starting resistance, the less effort you need to exert to move the cart. You can find a wheel with a high rolling resistance by opting for larger wheels and hardened casters.

Locking mechanism

The wheel and caster are both secured to a work surface by a locking assembly. The locking mechanism prevents the caster wheels from rotating about the axles. The locking assembly is located near the wheel axis with an actuator that is depressed by a foot. It also rotates the locking cam from the release condition to the locked position. The locking mechanism can accommodate considerable variations in the diameter of the caster wheels.