An important distinction to make for flanged wheels is the difference between gray cast iron, ductile cast iron, and cast steel.
Gray cast iron is typically cheaper to manufacture, but it is a much harder and more brittle material. Not only will it wear the track quicker, but it is more susceptible to fracture.
Ductile cast iron is also a widely used material for wheels as it provides some measure of the cost savings that gray cast iron wheels exhibit over steel, but it exhibits physical properties closer to those of steel rather than gray cast iron.
Cast steel is a more robust metal, with the strength and ductility that is often needed for industrial applications—especially where excessive contact with the flange is expected.
Other factors to consider include:
The material, size, and shape of a wheel will all affect load capacity. Although casting can be used to manufacture wheels, it does present a lot of waste in production. Wheels can often be produced more effectively and efficiently as forgings, or as machined parts from stock steel—such as rounds, shafts, plates, and bars.
Environmental conditions, such as heat and exposure to chemicals, can also affect design. A range of steel alloys are available to suit different conditions to avoid corrosion and potential failure.
Cast iron flanged wheel