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I am sure you all remember those prehistoric computer mouses that had a ball under it. I'm looking for any points and tips on how to create a ball and socket wheel that has an almost frictionless connection with its casing and allows for no resistance in any direction.

To clarify, this wheel should be able to move essentially with a wide range of motion in an infinite amount of directions. I am hoping to use some rubber ball that would give an ideal friction against some smooth surfaces and the base case of this is that it will not move unless a force acts on it (unless it is on an angled plane of course).

I want to know specifically if there are any technologies out there I can use for reference and if this concept is plausible, especially in simple mechanics, meaning no electronics, no moving parts or other fancy additions. Thank you for your help guys.

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  • $\begingroup$ Question is a bit vague as it is not clear what the application is, and/or what answer will satisfy the OP. $\endgroup$ – D Duck Aug 3 '19 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ Wheels for a non motorized vehicle that allows it to move in any direction. Not just cylindrical wheels that rotate $\endgroup$ – Computer Aug 3 '19 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ A "frictionless wheel with no moving parts" is an interesting engineering concept :) It sounds like somebody in the marketing department came up with that one! $\endgroup$ – alephzero Aug 3 '19 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ @alephzero I'd initially thought to have an array of steel balls on the inside of a case and have them surround one larger rubber ball, and their motion will influence the bigger ball's, but that's more difficult than I want $\endgroup$ – Computer Aug 3 '19 at 11:43
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You looking for an element in a ball table. Search for ball table conveyor enter image description here

A castor is almost the same, but cheaper.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well I'm looking for something that can support a rubber ball. I wouldn't want steel balls rolling on a floor because that can be noisy and the friction will be virtually nonexistent $\endgroup$ – Computer Aug 3 '19 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Computer but you specifically wanted the friction to be non existent as per "an almost frictionless connection"... so if you can clarify your position that might help... $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Aug 3 '19 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ @SolarMike I want it to be virtually frictionless against its casing so that it doesn't restrain the motion of the ball, but at the same time, I don't want the ball to be steel against a flat floor, it won't roll at that point, it'll slide. The only way I can think to do that with a rubber ball is use some lubricant and that's not something I want $\endgroup$ – Computer Aug 3 '19 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ Use a rubber or plastic covered castor. Only problem is that they can stall if the motion is intermittent without long strokes. $\endgroup$ – D Duck Aug 3 '19 at 11:19
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    $\begingroup$ The individual balls in the picture are called "ball transfer units". You can get them with nylon balls, if you don't want steel. You can also get actual wheels that will allow movement in any direction. See here for a survey of various types: ndsubisonrobotics.org/uploads/5/9/8/8/59888285/… $\endgroup$ – alephzero Aug 3 '19 at 11:30

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