How Does a Spring-Loaded Caster Work?
Victoria Forney

How Does a Spring-Loaded Caster Work?

Wheeled carts and transporters can move nearly any material, but some items can easily break during rough transport. Spring-loaded casters can help companies save money by reducing the risk of damaging goods, but how do they work?

At Caster Central, we are experts in all things concerning caster wheels, including utility cart casters and their accessories. We are a Pembroke, MA-based company, and our knowledgeable team employs experts in finding solutions for material handling applications, like transporting various items without causing damage with spring-loaded casters. Here, we discuss more about these wheels and their functions. 

What Is a Spring-Loaded Caster?

A spring-loaded caster, or shock-absorbing caster, is a wheel, bracket, and bearing combination that also includes a spring. The purpose of the spring is to reduce some of the shock from rolling carts and other equipment on uneven terrain, which could cause the materials on it to shift quickly, potentially damaging them.

With spring-loaded casters, your material handling equipment will move easily and smoothly. They're most suitable for applications where you must transport a fragile load or anything that could get damaged from the vibrations of cart wheels moving across the floor. 

How Do Spring-Loaded Casters Work?

You could transport items on a cart with typical caster wheels and no springs, but the equipment won't move easily unless the ground is smooth and even. Spring-loaded casters make hauling goods and equipment across uneven ground, floors with debris, or damaged flooring more efficient. The spring has a design deformity, allowing the cart to bounce gently up and down as the wheels go over uneven flooring. 

Though it might seem like the bouncing would cause more problems than it solves, the spring is actually absorbing some of the shocks that would otherwise jolt the cart surface and its contents. The result is a smooth ride. Whenever you apply pressure to the spring on a caster, it will deflect or absorb shock to cushion the payload. 

What Are Common Applications for Spring-Loaded Casters?

Spring-loaded casters work in two ways. The first is reducing a cart's shock impact and minimizing damage to its payload. This occurs when the spring deflects the ground's unevenness. Still, the shock-absorbing casters must be for a specific type of load, which you can learn by observing the load rating in the descriptions of spring-loaded casters during a purchase. 

When you work with this type of spring-loaded caster, the spring will deflect about 50% of the cart's total travel. In other words, the spring will absorb about half of the shock the cart encounters as it rolls across the floor. Though the wheels won't lose contact with the ground, the cart's surface will bounce to dampen the impact of the ride. 

You could also use spring loads to deflect 100% of the floor's impact. This application is more suitable for materials handling equipment with light loads. When heavier loads are on carts with 100% deflection springs, they create a hard stop by decompressing all the way down, causing the carts' feet to get on the floor. 

When a cart's feet touch the floor, the spring-loaded caster is no longer supporting the load's weight. The weight shifts to the cart's feet. Unless you lighten the load, you cannot move the cart. 

Spring-loaded casters are suitable for any application where employees would transport delicate or vibration-sensitive materials over uneven ground. The most common applications for these casters are:

  • Trash gondolas
  • Engine dollies
  • Revolving signs
  • Parade floats
  • In-plant trailers

Benefits of Using Spring-Loaded Casters

Noisy working environments can impact employee productivity because excessive noise can be distracting, especially in office spaces. Using spring-loaded casters on workplace equipment helps reduce the amount of noise around your workers because carts won't jostle as much, allowing them to focus better on their duties. 

Spring-loaded casters are also easy to use and ideal for multiple purposes, like moving office printers and inventory racks. Because of the heavy-duty quality and design of the casters, you and your employees can move things safely around the office without rattling the equipment and risking damage. Still, these casters are strong enough to withstand tens of thousands of pounds for applications like jet engine transportation. 

When you choose spring-loaded casters for your material handling applications, you can expect the equipment to last. The casters consist of heavy-duty, high-quality materials that are unlikely to break or degrade quickly. 

Factors to Consider When Looking for Spring-Loaded Casters

Not all spring-loaded casters will work for every application. You must install the proper ones to accommodate the specific weight load for the cart, rack, rail, or other equipment to fully benefit from these types of caster wheels. Still, those aren't the only factor you must consider. 

When looking at the various casters with springs, think of their engineering. Will it absorb most of the cart's shock or all of it? What type of flooring will you go across, and what items will the cart primarily transport?

After answering those questions, take a look at caster sizes, wheel diameters, and caster styles. An improperly sized caster can decompress too much, damaging the springs and requiring a premature replacement. It's best to have casters with springs that don't exceed 80% of a cart's total travel to avoid an unintended compression set. 

Despite learning about these considerations, it's still best to work with a skilled caster wheel manufacturer to ensure you get the exact casters your company needs. Skilled caster experts understand the intricate science and engineering that goes into getting the perfect spring deflection for any application. 

You could accidentally purchase the wrong shock-absorbing caster and fail to protect your equipment and materials unless you get help from caster manufacturing professionals. For instance, if the spring is too high, it won't create a smooth ride to prevent jostling the load contents. 

Importance of Determining the Load Capacity for Spring-Loaded Casters

People often struggle to uncover the right load capacity for their shock-absorbing casters. Knowing the proper load capacity is necessary because a lightweight load on heavy-duty springs won't produce deflection, rendering the springs useless. Still, if you exceed the weight capacity of spring-loaded casters, they won't be able to adequately absorb the shock from bumps, cracks, or debris on the ground.

Unfortunately, caster manufacturers can't know the exact speed, force, and handling that you will put on your casters. That's why engineering safety factors are often necessary to account for unknown factors while calculating the right wheel loads and speeds. 

Without the safety factor, it's possible to get a caster without enough deflection because the load is too light for how much the spring is meant to support. With a safety factor, manufacturers will make all parts of the caster except the spring to support the load adequately. To prevent overloading, the springs will form a hard stop by decompressing 100%.

Get the Perfect Casters for Your Company's Materials Handling Applications From Caster Central

If you need spring-loaded casters to handle fragile materials or solutions for shock-loading on casters, reach out to Caster Central. We have over 150 years of experience providing optimal solutions for materials handling. Our company has an impressive selection of over 2,500 casters and accompanying accessories.

If you don't know the best casters for a particular wheel diameter or load weight, you can ask us for professional advice and hands-on help. Call Caster Central at (800) 445-4082 for more details about our items. We proudly provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee and speedy shipping for all orders. Reach out now to learn more.