Steel casters are superior in their durability, weight bearing capacity, and solid surface, but polyurethane casters may be more practical on some work sites. The conditions of the floor surface and the weight that must be born are the key factors that determine which type of caster is suitable on a specific job site.
The Benefits of Steel Casters
Steel casters can support up to thousands of pounds of weight without being crushed, depending on the size and capacity of the casters. This is extremely important, because if only one wheel fails as a load is being transported, the entire weight can shift and tip over onto a worker, causing serious injuries or death.
Steel casters have a solid surface that resists impregnation by floor debris such as metal shavings, nails, and screws. Anyone who has pushed a shopping cart with polyurethane wheels can attest to the inconvenience of having one wheel that continuously thumps along as an embedded object spins and strikes against the floor.
When heavy weight bears on the embedded object in a polyurethane wheel, it may stop in its tracks or rapidly switch directions as the wheel attempts to roll over the lodged object. Steel wheels prevent this issue from the start.
Steel casters will wear away the surface on which they roll before they begin to wear, while polyurethane casters will eventually wear down and warp unevenly until they need to be replaced. While steel casters are more expensive than polyurethane or cast iron, the cost is offset by an extended period of use.
The Benefits of Polyurethane Wheels
Protection of floor surface
Using steel wheels on a surface other than concrete or steel will cause significant damage to the floor surface over time. Of course, some loads will require the capacity only steel can provide, but polyurethane is the best choice for lower weight capacity transporting on vulnerable surfaces.
Although steel casters have many good points, moving a load on a steel plated floor surface can sound like a train rumbling down the tracks. Polyurethane wheels, on the other hand, are much quieter.
Wet floor conditions
Steel rusts with constant exposure to moisture, leaving polyurethane the choice for consistently wet locations.
Both steel and polyurethane casters perform well if used in appropriate ways, and the choice between the two is usually determined by cost, weight of load carried, and floor surfaces.