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Stainless Steel Casters FAQs

If you are looking for stainless steel casters for your carts, platform trucks, or other material handling systems, you likely have questions about stainless steel grades, casters, what to look for when shopping for the best caster, and mistakes to avoid. So here are some answers to the top questions that businesses ask when buying stainless steel casters.

Q. What is a stainless steel caster?

A. A stainless steel caster is a caster manufactured using chromium in the metal alloy. Chromium is a chemical element that prevents iron from rusting and corroding.

Q. How are stainless steel casters different from zinc-plated casters?

A. Zinc-plated casters are the most common casters on the market and are suitable for many applications. But zinc-plated casters are vulnerable to corrosion from water, chemicals, and other hazards. The difference between zinc-plated casters and stainless casters is that zinc-plated casters rust, while stainless steel casters don’t.

Stainless Steel Caster

Q. Which grade of stainless steel do I need on my casters?

A. The most common grades of stainless steel are 304 and 316. The most common grade is 304 stainless steel because of its excellent corrosion resistance and value. It contains between 16% and 24% chromium and up to 35% nickel, as well as small amounts of carbon and manganese.

Grade 316 stainless steel contains added molybdenum and nickel, making it more corrosion resistant than 304 stainless steel, but also more expensive.

Grade 304 stainless steel is suitable for most applications. Grade 316 stainless steel is a better choice for environments that expose your casters to any of the following:

  • Chlorides, such as de-icing salts and saltwater
  • Harsh cleaning agents
  • Corrosive and rust-causing environments

Q. Where are stainless steel casters used?

A. Stainless steel casters are ideal for hash environments that expose casters to water, chemicals and other agents that cause rust and corrosion. These environments include:

  • Food service and hospitality industries, where carts are regularly washed down
  • Marine environments, where casters are exposed to salt water
  • Medical and pharmaceutical environments, where rust creates a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and microbes
  • Food processing, where casters are regularly washed down and where they come into contact with chemicals
  • Manufacturing, where casters come into contact with chemicals

Q. How much of a stainless caster is made from stainless steel?

A. Some casters are made entirely from stainless steel components (with the exception of the plastic wheel and rubber tread, of course). Other casters feature stainless steel in only some of their components, including the:

  • Swivel fork
  • Raceway bearings
  • Wheel roller bearings
  • Axle
  • Spanner bushings
  • Nuts
  • Kingpin

Q. Should stainless steel casters have kingpins?

A. No. Swivel casters that feature kingpins have a rivet or threaded stud or bolt-and-nut that holds together the mounting plate and fork assembly. This kingpin creates an open raceway that allows water and chemicals to enter the raceway, eventually removing the grease and rusting-out the bearings.

Q. What is the alternative to stainless steel casters with kingpins?

A. The most reliable alternative to casters with kingpins is kingpinless casters. They feature a swivel section held together without a rivet or nut-and-bolt kingpin. Kingpinless swivel sections are held together by a single row of ball bearings that are contained by a full-contact, interlocking swivel raceway design. The next-best option is a raceway seal, a piece of plastic that goes around the raceway to keep the bearings and the grease sealed from outside elements.

Q. What is the primary disadvantage of raceway seals?

A. The main disadvantage of raceway seals is that they eventually fail. Being made of plastic, they snap and break. Plus, they're not easy to install or replace once you have a caster on a unit.

Q. What kind of wheel should my stainless steel casters have?

A. The type of wheel you have on your stainless steel caster makes a lot of difference. Some wheels are more impervious to water and chemicals than others. The most popular choice is nylon because nylon, whether it's injected-molded nylon, glass-filled nylon or cast nylon, is impervious to water and most chemicals.

Q. Are there any disadvantages to nylon wheels?

A. There are two main disadvantages to nylon wheel on stainless steel casters. One is noise and the other is ergonomics. Nylon wheels are noisier than rubber wheels. And nylon wheels are harder to push and pull, particularly outside on gravel surfaces.

Q. What’s the difference between stainless steel swivel casters and stainless steel rigid casters?

A. The only difference between stainless steel swivel casters and stainless steel rigid casters is that swivel casters swivel and rigid casters don’t. On a typical cart (such as a shopping cart), the front two casters are rigid casters and the back two casters are swivel casters. If you are buying stainless steel casters for your carts, make sure all of the casters you install are stainless steel.

Q. Where can I buy stainless steel casters?

A. If you are looking for a wide selection of stainless steel casters, both swivel and rigid, we recommend you check out Caster Connection’s catalog of stainless steel casters.