Thursday, August 21, 2014

Reinventing the Wheel

Twin-wheel caster by Caster Concepts
“You don't need to reinvent the wheel.” How many times have you heard this idiom? But reinventing the wheel was exactly what David A. Fisher did in 1876 and what caster manufacturers still do today. Unlike driven wheels that are mounted to an axle, for example on cars, casters are undriven wheels that are mounted to the bottom of an object, for example on chairs and shopping carts.
Fisher, a prolific African-American inventor, developed the furniture caster, a free turning wheel that would allow workers to move heavy objects in furniture factories in a safe and effective manner. Most of the early casters were made of cast iron with leather tires for use on hard wood floors.
Today, heavy-duty industrial casters are still frequently made of cast-iron, but composite plastics are also used. Modern-day casters come in many forms and with a variety of features, such as brakes and direction locks. Casters used in an industrial environment are often shock absorbing and usually custom designed for their specific application. Factors such as noise reduction and worker health and safety also play a big role in the engineering of modern casters. Despite the popular idiom, wheels get reinvented almost every day!