Planning Your Use of Rigid and Swivel Casters

If you want to create projects that have a great combination of mobility and carrying capacity, you need to understand how different caster types play a role in the behavior of any projects you build with them. Once you have a handle on that, it gets a lot easier to accurately predict the behavior of your creations when they’re moving in the world. There are fans of each caster type, but the reality is there isn’t just one perfect choice. It depends a lot on what you’re doing, how the system it’s a part of moves, and so forth. Fans of just rigid or just swivel casters tend to have niche uses for them that lead to those conclusions.

Swivel Casters and Their Advantages

Swivel casters have the ability to change direction with just a little nudge, making it easy to move them all over a room. They’re popular as the sole caster choice for carts that have to move with you, like mobile kitchen islands, inventory carts, and harvesting baskets. All those applications for casters involve moving in many directions and being able to change at will. The use of swivel casters exclusively in their construction ensures free movement in any direction from any point of contact. By contrast, rigid casters limit directional movement.

Advantages of Unidirectional Casters

When casters have a rigid plate, they can pretty much only move straight forward and backward. This is incredibly useful when you’re constructing carts and wagons that need to take a lot of weight. Casters allow for free movement even when carrying a lot of weight, but they can’t reduce the inertia the weight brings with it. Controlling that inertia means limiting the direction a new force can send it in, and that’s where rigid plates help. To get great steering control coupled with directional stability that helps control inertia, all you need to do is combine rigid and swivel casters.

Balanced Steering Solutions

When you put rigid caster selections on one side of a four caster construction and swivel casters on the other side, you create an easy to manage steering pivot while adding directional stability. This gives you a combination of handling and stability, but it does require planning before a turn, because your cornering radius will be a lot larger than a construction that uses swivel casters exclusively. Make sure you’re taking that into account when planning your next project so you can get the right behavior out of each new build you put together.