Mini-ball bearing caster

Casters are well-known in the art for facilitating movement and relocation of various-sized articles for a variety of applications. Known caster designs are typically affixed to an article by its manufacturer prior to use of the article by a consumer or end-user. An example of a caster design that is installed during the article's manufacturing process is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,136,751 to Coyne et al. entitled ¡°Wheel Assembly¡±.

Often times in the art it is desirous to utilize a sphere instead of a wheel for the caster design to facilitate ease of movement in any direction on a horizontal surface without changing the orientation of the caster. Moreover, spherical caster design art is typically less complex and expensive to manufacture because they consist of fewer parts. An example of a spherical caster design is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,893,700 to Dunmyer entitled ¡°Mobile Device¡±. The caster design of Dunmyer utilizes a spherical caster to facilitate movement. Its construction is comprised of a caster body and a sphere retained in a circular horizontal groove within a recess of the caster body by use of a ball bearing ring that locks onto the recess.

Other caster designs are configured to be attached to an article after the article's manufacturing process. The caster design disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,559,802 to Eidus entitled ¡°Caster Assembly¡± describes a caster that may be easily added to an article by use of adhesive, as opposed to the use of a screw, bolt or other fastening device. The Eidus caster design utilizes a ball bearing retained within a caster block by use of a separate retaining ring through which the ball bearings extends. In another described embodiment, the caster block and retaining ring are made integral, wherein the spherical opening of the caster block flexes to accept the ball bearing.

Therefore, there appears a need in the art for an easy to manufacture, easy to use caster that is reliable and avoids the problems of the known art. There is also a need in the art for a caster that is simple in construction and easy to manufacture.

These and other objects of the present invention are realized in the preferred embodiment of the present invention, described by way of example and not by way of limitation, which provides for a caster assembly for supporting an article comprising a housing, a ball bearing and a bearing retaining member.

In brief summary, the present invention overcomes and substantially alleviates the deficiencies in the prior art by providing a caster comprising a housing with an inflexible opening and a bearing retaining member, both of which retain a ball bearing within a bore of the caster housing.

Additional objects, advantages and novel features of the invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following more detailed description and drawings in which like elements of the invention are similarly numbered throughout.