Understanding Urethane Rollers: Benefits, Types & Applications

The Perfect Solution For High-Stress Applications

Many industries and organizations rely on urethane rollers and wheels for a variety of applications. Rollers and wheels made out of urethane, are wear resistant and can carry higher loads than other materials of a similar hardness.  Urethane also can be formulated to produce a very wide range of hardnesses, from soft as a marshmallow to as hard as a bowling ball. Read on as we explore the wide range of urethane roller/wheel types, the industries that rely on urethane rollers/wheels, and tips for choosing a urethane manufacturer.

What Are Urethane Rollers and wheels?

Urethane can be bonded to almost any substrate, to create the outer covering of a roller or wheel.  Some rollers/wheels are 100% urethane and are simply slipped over a shaft or have bearings popped into the ends, in order to be used.  Some are made in layers with different colors to indicate wear, and others may have special shapes such as grooves, notches or crowns. Urethane rollers can be manufactured in a variety of designs, which we’ll explain in detail below.

Types of Urethane Rollers & wheels

All rollers/wheels are divided into two main categories, idler and drive.

Idler Rollers/Wheels: These sit “Idle”, as their name implies. They are set into a system and allow an object to move across them.  They are not powered and in order for the object to move, it must be propelled using energy gathered elsewhere.

Drive Rollers/Wheels: These provide the power to move objects. They are connected to a power supply (a motor of some type) and need friction to propel the object.  For example, a drive roller may be used to power a conveyor belt carrying parts in a factory.

Pinch Rollers/Wheels: These can also be referred to as laminating or nip rollers/wheels. They provide consistent pressure to a material as it is pulled through a machine.  For example, laminating materials are glued together and pressed between two rollers. Typically, one roller will drive, while the other is an idler. The high load bearing capability of urethane and its low compression set, is ideal for maintaining an even pressure on the laminate.

Conveyor Rollers/Wheels: Conveyor rollers/wheels are typically found on assembly lines. They may be on conveyor belt drive systems, where one drive roller/wheel keeps the belt moving.  Or perhaps they are a series of idler rollers, where operators push product down the line. They’re commonly made from a steel core that’s covered with polyurethane.  Urethane’s high coefficient of friction and high abrasion resistance provides less downtime and lower maintenance costs.

V-Rollers: Polyurethane V-rollers, also referred to as V-groove track rollers, are used on boat trailers, moving cameras for sporting events, and many industrial applications. You’ll  see v-rollers being used to move pipes, cables, tubing, wire, and thread. V-rollers are also used to suspend objects such as automobile assembly lines. Urethane’s extreme abrasion resistance is key for the long life of V-rollers.

Segmented Rollers/Wheels: Segmented rollers/wheels have a pattern molded or cut into the surface of the urethane. They are utilized to transport a material such as glue, in a specific amount or leave a certain pattern in a soft material that it rolls over. These may be designed to impart additional traction as well. Urethane’s excellent chemical resistance and high coefficient of friction are important in these applications.

Industries Using Urethane Rollers

Many industries rely on urethane rollers for their needs, including:

  • Food processing
  • Steel industry
  • Marine industry
  • Packaging industry

Urethane rollers/wheels are also the choice for woodworking machinery, newspapers and commercial presses, mailroom equipment, metal trades, plastics fabrication, specialty manufacturing, material handling, and medical equipment.

3 Tips for Selecting a Urethane Roller Manufacturer

Consider the following tips when choosing a urethane roller manufacturer:

  1. Review their list of roller specifications, such as durometer, tolerances and custom formulations, to ensure that you’re getting the best product for your needs.
  2. Understand their production process. Do they have a machine shop in-house that can produce new urethane rollers as well as recover existing rollers?
  3. Confirm your surface finish options. What type of surface finishes do they offer? Can they produce turned finish as well as ground finish rollers?

Why Choose PSI For Your Custom Urethane Rollers?

PSI Urethanes specializes in custom urethane projects, offers premium grade materials, close tolerances, and custom formulations, even FDA Wet and Dry compliant formulations.  Our experts will help you determine the right load bearing capacity, core design, and polyurethane compound that best suits your application. Whether you’re looking for the perfect drive rollers for your conveyor belt, idler rollers for a pulley system, or need existing rollers recovered, you can count on PSI Urethanes to deliver exactly what you need.

Call one of our experienced application engineers today at (800) 888-5156 to learn more about urethane rollers, get a quick quote for your project, and see how we can meet your needs. Or, request a quote for your custom urethane project online at any time. If possible, please also have available the intended roller load weight, speed, and any environmental elements that may need to be considered as well (like corrosive or abrasive elements).

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