You probably know that casters come in many different sizes, materials, designs, and weight-bearing capacities. Besides these choices, one thing that is crucial and must be considered when choosing casters is rigid or swivel. Each one has unique benefits, and you can combine them to get an entirely different experience. Here are some of the reasons you would need each configuration.
The Straight Lines of Rigid
Fixed or rigid casters have forks that don’t turn. This makes them great at moving materials back and forth in straight lines, but you cannot steer them. This limits their maneuverability, but they can bear heavier loads than swivel casters. When using rigid ones, it is important to ensure they line up perfectly to get a smooth experience. Another option is to tilt mount a cart with rigid wheels in a diamond to allow for extra maneuverability. One example where you would see these being used is for a pallet that is moved with a push stick.
The Maneuverability of Swivel
If you are working in tight spaces or need more maneuverability, you need swivel casters. These can rotate in a complete circle and respond to the slightest nudges. Some swivel casters can even operate under heavy loads. However, they may not be the best for shop safety because they take extra force to get heavy loads moving when the wheels are not facing the same direction. It can also be difficult to get these to roll in straight lines over long distances.
The Benefits of Both
In some cases, you may need to be able to roll in a straight line and turn. It is best to place swivels at one end of your cart and rigid wheels at the other for these applications. This will allow you to move in a straight line over long distances without struggling to steer your cart or being limited on maneuverability. Plus, this configuration can still handle the heavy loads that you would need rigid wheels for. One example where you can see this configuration is on a shopping cart at the grocery store.
Whether you go with rigid wheels or swivel casters, you need to think about what works best for your application. In some cases, you may need to combine these to get the benefits of both. Consider the pros and cons of all your options and pick out the best one for your shop.