How to Choose the Right Plastic Handwheel

Plastic handwheel by Monroe

Industrial handwheels are available in a variety of materials. In addition to metals and alloys, you can find them in plastic. Plastic handwheels are used in many of the same turning-based adjustment applications as their metal and alloy counterparts. With their plastic construction, though, they are lightweight and long-lasting.

All plastic handwheels are made of plastic. Therefore, they typically weigh less than handwheels made of steel, aluminum, cast iron and other materials. Plastic handwheels are also virtually immune to rust and corrosion. You can use them in a humid or wet environment without fear of the plastic handwheels degrading due to rust or corrosion. Below are several things to consider when choosing a plastic handwheel.

Handle vs No Handle

Some plastic handwheels feature a handle, whereas others don’t. The photo above depicts a plastic handwheel without a handle. It consists entirely of a circular-shaped wheel. After connecting the plastic handwheel to a machine, you can turn the wheel to perform adjustments.

There are plastic handwheels with a handle as well. The handle typically consists of a perpendicular rod-like extension. Rather than gripping and turning the wheel, you can grip and turn the handle. Handles are available in revolving styles and fold-away styles, the latter of which can be folded down to conserve space.

Solid vs Open Center

Plastic handwheels feature either a solid or open center. A solid center means the wheel is completely closed. An open center, conversely, means the wheel is open.

Plastic handwheels with an open center have spokes similar to the spokes on a bicycle wheel. There are two-spoke plastic handwheels, and there are three-spoke plastic handwheels. They all feature an open center that’s connected to the perimeter of the wheel via spokes.

Trim Ring

You may discover that some plastic handwheels feature a trim ring. The center, for instance, isn’t made of the same plastic material as the rest of the handwheel. With a trim ring, plastic handwheels feature a ring of anodized aluminum around the center. It enhances their aesthetics by offering a more modern and stylish handwheel design.


You can’t choose the right plastic handwheel without considering the size. Like all handwheels, they are available in different sizes. Some of them are small and compact. Other plastic handwheels are larger.

Small plastic handwheels are ideal for use in small spaces. If a machine has limited space, you may want to choose a plastic handwheel with a small diameter. If space isn’t a concern, you may want to choose a plastic handwheel with a large diameter. A large diameter can make it easier to turn.

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