A caster and a wheel are not the same things.
The wheel has been around for thousands of years, and at its core, still functions the same way as it has in the past.
But casters with wheels are more of a recent technological advancement that has made rolling objects even easier.
Most people believe that casters are a type of wheel. This is sort of true.
Technically a caster and a wheel are separate objects, which can be combined to increase functionality.
Let’s take a deeper look at the difference between casters and wheels, and why they are so useful when combined.
The Difference Between Casters and Wheels
Everyone understands how wheels work.
At their core, they can only travel in one direction; forward.
Wheels can’t turn and move sideways. You can steer a wheel in the direction you would like it to move, but it can’t naturally move in a sideways direction.
Think of the rear wheels on a car. They do not turn. They can only rotate forward or backward.
A caster, on the other hand, is a metal attachment on a wheel that allows it to swivel 360 degrees and move in any direction, all while bearing weight.
A caster with wheels includes a wheel, but the caster itself is the bracket and swivel.
How does it work?
Let’s reexamine the car. Say you need to parallel park. To do this, you have to pull forward at an angle, then reverse at an angle. Your front tires are changing directions (not swiveling 90 degrees), but you are still moving forwards and backward.
If your car had casters (which they don’t), you could pull up next to a parking spot, your wheels could all rotate 90 degrees, and you can move sideways directly into the parking spot.
That would be way easier than actually parallel parking a vehicle.
There are also rigid, or fixed casters, which do not swivel 360 degrees. Instead, they are used to mount wheels that only need to travel forward or backward.
The Usefulness of Casters With Wheels
Hypothetical cars aside, casters with wheels are used in so many ways today. You’ve probably enjoyed their functionality today without realizing it.
Office chairs always come equipped with casters to allow you to move in any direction at a moment’s notice.
You can pull forward to your desk or move sideways to reach your drawers.
Many other objects are outfitted with casters, such as large rolling tool boxes, small computer desks used by doctors as they move from room to room, garbage bins used by janitors, and everything in between.
You can get casters and wheels in any size and many different materials, such as steel, rubber, polyurethane, and more, depending on the strength needed.
Functionality for Your Next Project
Whether you are starting your next wood working project, or you need to improve industrial efficiency, using casters with wheels is a no-brainer.
Life is too complicated to always move in a straight line.
Add some variety to your next project by getting casters and enjoying a full range of motion.