Furniture wheels, generally known as furniture casters, are wheel assemblies that are attached to the bottoms of furniture legs to provide furniture mobility and shock absorption. An example of industry-specific furniture wheels is medical and hospital furniture casters, which are medium-duty with soft polyamide rubber wheels and polypro injection molded housings for smooth, quiet operation.
The main purpose for furniture wheels is to allow furniture to move across the floor with minimal friction and scratching. Furniture wheels are typically used on beds, chairs and tables in homes, offices, schools, hospitals, banquet halls, restaurants, retail stores, truck garages and industrial manufacturing plants and warehouses. However, being able to roll tables, chairs and equipment platforms around smoothly is also important in the manufacturing industry, with equipment, workstations and chairs frequently being moved around. It is also very important in hospitals, where computer stations, beds, IV racks and other equipment are constantly in transit. Furniture wheels are primarily constructed of wheels, caster frames and legs. The wheels are positioned between the legs of the caster frame, which can be mounted to objects by an axle or bolt. There are two main types of caster frames: swivel frames, which allow full 360º movement; and rigid frames, which only allow back and forth movement. When the wheel is installed into the caster frame, two legs are attached to either side of the wheel, and the wheel is held in place between these two legs by an axle or bolt.
The majority of furniture wheels are made from materials that are specific to the surface on which they will be rolling as well as the load they are carrying. The most common materials for furniture wheels are molded urethane, which performs well in high-moisture applications; rubber, which absorbs shock well and is noiseless; and thermoplastic, which is ideal for clean environments. Common surfaces with which furniture wheels come into contact are carpet, plastic and hardwood. An alternative to furniture wheels are furniture glides, which are wheel-less furniture leg attachments that allow furniture to sit or be moved across the floor with minimal friction and scratching. Office tables and household furniture that remain stationary do not need casters; they are usually fitted with furniture glides instead. The choice between a furniture wheel and a glide should be made based on careful consideration of the utilities’ intended application.