The Beginner’s Guide to Omnidirectional Wheels

Have you heard of omnidirectional wheels? Also known as poly wheels, they are characterized by the use of many small rollers. Omnidirectional wheels have rollers along the outside that allow them to roll in all directions. To learn more about omnidirectional wheels and how they work, keep reading.

What Are Omnidirectional Wheels

Omnidirectional wheels are disc-shaped wheels that can roll in all directions. They look like traditional wheels when viewed from afar. Upon closing inspection, though, you’ll notice that they have small rollers on them.

Traditional wheels can only roll forward and backward. Even if they feature a swivel assembly, such as a kingpin, the wheels themselves can only roll forward and backward. A swivel assembly simply allows the caster to rotate 360 degrees; the wheel within a swivel caster will still be limited to forward and backward rolling. Omnidirectional wheels feature a unique design that allows them to roll in all directions.

How Omnidirectional Wheels Work

Thanks to their small rollers, omnidirectional wheels can roll forward, backward and side to side. Each omnidirectional wheel has a half-dozen or so small rollers on it. The rollers run along the circumference of the omnidirectional wheel.

You can roll an omnidirectional wheel forward or backward by pushing or pulling it. You can also roll it to the side with the help of the small rollers. The small rollers act as lateral wheels. Pushing the omnidirectional wheel to the side will engage these small rollers, thereby allowing it to roll laterally.

Only omnidirectional wheels feature small rollers. Traditional wheels consist entirely of disc-shaped wheels. Therefore, they can only roll forward and backward.

Benefits of Omnidirectional Wheels

Why should you choose omnidirectional wheels exactly? You don’t have to worry about skidding with omnidirectional wheels. Skidding is typically caused by friction. Pushing a traditional wheel to the side will create friction that causes skidding. Omnidirectional wheels exhibit little or no friction when pushed to the side, so they don’t suffer from skidding.

Omnidirectional wheels are strong and durable. The small rollers are typically made of polyurethane. This is why they are also known as poly wheels. With their polyurethane construction, they offer excellent shock absorbent properties, yet they are still strong and durable.

Omnidirectional wheels are commonly used in conveyor systems. Conveyor systems in manufacturing factories and other businesses may use them as part of their assembly process.  The omnidirectional wheels can carry parts and products down the assembly line.