Anne has a bachelor's in K-12 art education and a master's in visual art and design. She currently works at a living history museum in Colorado.
A World without Wheels
Without casters, nothing would move. Grocery carts couldn't be pushed, hospital workers couldn't wheel their gurneys, and wheelchairs wouldn't go anywhere. Everything would have to be pushed or pulled. But what is a caster? In order to get the object rolling, a caster is used to attach the wheels to the object. A basic caster is made of many parts, but they work together to achieve one goal; to get things rolling.
Patenting the Caster
Even though wheels (and therefore casters) have been around for quite a while, they weren't officially used to move furniture until the 1870s. David A Fisher filed the first patent for a caster in 1876. Fisher worked in the furniture industry and had previously created a joiner's clamp, which allowed workers to bind pieces of wood together without having to stop working on the rest of a furniture piece. Fisher's next patent allowed workers to move furniture with less strain than before. Instead of several men pushing a heavy piece, one man could push the item easily. These early casters were quite heavy, so they were only used in factories at first.
Types and Materials
Today's caster has evolved to serve many purposes. Today's casters can be made of glass, leather, plastic, iron, aluminum, stainless steel, rubber, or nylon. There are four types of casters that are used nowadays. These four types are rigid, swivel, industrial, and braking and locking. A rigid caster is used on various types of furniture and carts and is the most basic type of caster. One of the most common uses of a rigid caster is the back wheels of a shopping cart. They are locked into place, meaning they don't rotate. Swivel casters can also be used on grocery carts but as the front wheels. Swivel casters rotate 360°. Sometimes these can malfunction, which is why some grocery carts have that one wheel that spins constantly or gets stuck while it's being pushed. Office chairs also use swivel casters.
Industrial casters are used on machinery and other heavy equipment. These casters are usually more heavy duty than other casters because they are made to withstand thousands of pounds. A dolly cart, like something a UPS or FEDEX driver would use, uses rigid casters that are made to withstand heavy loads. Braking and locking casters are used when something needs to be stopped and locked into place, such as wheelchairs or gurneys.
Without wheels, nothing could move easily. Grocery carts wouldn't move, and wheelchairs wouldn't do their jobs. Wheels are just one part of something called a caster. A caster is what attaches a wheel to something to make it move and make it more portable. The patent for modern casters was filed in 1876 by David A. Fisher. He worked in the furniture industry and wanted to make things easier for his coworkers.
There are four types of casters: Rigid casters are the most common type and are used on furniture, tables, and the back wheel of grocery carts. Swivel casters rotate 360° and are usually found on the front of grocery carts. Industrial casters are stronger rigid casters and are used on more industrial things such as dolly carts. Braking and locking casters are used most commonly in the healthcare system for things like wheelchairs and gurneys.
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