A common question I get asked a lot is whether or not stainless steel should be used rather than zinc plated steel. Both of these rig materials serve their purpose but vary from each other significantly. Stainless steel casters are much more expensive than zinc plated casters because of the oxidation process and materials used in the metal.
In our industry, stainless steel casters should be used in heavy wash down environments or where they will be exposed to cleaning agents, caustic solutions, steam, chemicals and other abrasive solutions. If you put a normal zinc plated caster in these types of environments, they are going to rust out very quickly which will lead to eventual failures on the casters. To the untrained eye, the stainless steel rig and zinc plated rig might look the same but when analyzing them closer, you will be able to see that the stainless steel rig has more of a polished finish and a slightly darker tint than the zinc plated metal.
With stainless steel casters, they usually run about double the price of what a zinc plated caster costs but you will save money in the long run by eliminating replacements. Common applications for stainless steel casters can be seen in food grade environments, pharmaceuticals, laboratories, hospitals, an other manufacturing applications where heavy wash downs occur.
The Caster Guy