Urethane Wheels - Types, Applications, & Benefits

While most tires you would find on the road are made from rubber and metal, in an industrial assembly, you will likely see a number of wheels made from molded urethane. Also known as polyurethane, molded urethane is a lab-made elastomer that can be used in its liquid form to seal and coat assemblies, or molded to form solid components. Offering several advantages over rubber, metal, and plastic, urethane has become a popular choice for its flexibility, durability, and noise reduction, among other characteristics which we will discuss further in this blog.

Types of Urethane Wheels

In this section, we will provide an overview of different types of urethane wheels and their uses.

Crowned Wheels: Named after their crown-shaped design, crowned wheels feature a protruding axle that is connected to a circular wheel using five or more struts. These wheels have significantly reduced rolling resistance when compared to standard flat treaded wheels, and they are also resistant to solvents and abrasive wear because they are made of polyurethane. With these benefits in mind, crowned wheels are typically used in conveyor systems, where noise reduction and high load capacity are vital parts of maintaining efficiency.

Engraved Wheels: Since urethane can be molded to any shape, it is a popular option for engraved wheels which feature patterns such as brand names, identification marks, or serial numbers. While many different types of wheels may be engraved, standard versions have flat treaded wheels that generate greater rolling resistance over crowned wheels. As a result, these wheels typically have low load capacity. Nevertheless, they are easy to find in a plethora of different shapes and sizes which can make them a good choice for low-duty applications.

Desk Wheels: Like standard engraved wheels, desk wheels are better suited for light loads. Designed for use with desks and similar assemblies, these wheels rarely damage soft surfaces like wood and carpeting, and they can easily change direction when necessary. Desk wheels also have varying spring rates achieved through the incorporation of an array urethane harnesses. As such, they can be built to handle different levels of compressive force.

Drive Wheels: A drive wheel is a type of wheel that is fixed to an axle and has wheel bearings that allow it to have a very high carrying capacity. Generally, drive wheels must be able to quickly move heavy-duty objects; thus, the wheel bearings are made of urethane because it gives the drive wheels additional strength and adaptability.

Compliant Wheels: Compliant wheels have a spring-like motion that can be used to handle fragile materials such as papers of various thicknesses. As one of the cheapest options available, they consist of a very simple molded design that comes in a vast array of sizes and dimensions.

Benefits and Applications

As a man-made material, urethane has several special characteristics which have made it a frequent choice in a number of industrial applications. First, it offers exceptional durability as a result of its resistance to heat, chemicals, cuts, and rips. When compared to rubber, metal, and plastic, urethane displays exceptional resistance to environmental forces like radiation, oxygen, ozone, and a range of other elements. More than that, it can be manufactured with different hardness levels, from sponge-soft to iron-hard. This makes it a useful option for a wide range of applications, such as moving fragile materials like paper or transporting lugging vehicles on railroads. Some common uses of urethane wheels include overhead conveyor systems, industrial carts, railroad projects, industrial washer systems, roll-forming machinery, elevators, and hyperloops.


In addition to their use in the applications mentioned above, urethane wheels are also frequently used in aviation operations. If you are in the market for urethane wheels or other aircraft parts for your business, Methodical Purchasing has you covered. Peruse our catalogs of available parts with ease, or search for specific items of interest using our optimized search engine. With an inventory of over 2 billion parts sourced from our widespread supply network, we offer some of the quickest lead times on the market. Kick off the procurement process with us today to start getting the aircraft parts you require ASAP!


November 23, 2022
September 22, 2022

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