The Different Types of Shims

Projections show that the global metal shims market will grow at a 3.1% CAGR between 2021 and 2030. The growth of the metal shims market is a direct result of the increased use of shims across various industries. Despite being a small, simple component, shims are incredibly useful for all kinds of projects and may be just what you need for yours.

What Is Shim Stock?

Shim stock is the metal used to create shims, and it comes in the form of thin rolls. The gauge can be as low as 0.0005 inches for a very high degree of accuracy.

As the metal is so thin, it’s easy to cut out custom shapes with standard tools. More complex shapes are also possible but may require more advanced processes to maintain accuracy. This can include things like:

  • Laser cutting
  • Water jet cutting
  • Stamping
  • Machining

Shim stock is cut into small components known as shims, and there’s a range of types available to suit various applications. Shims are small precision-made parts that are generally made of metal but other materials like wood or plastic are sometimes used. They have a range of uses in various industries and are custom-made to meet the requirements of specific applications.

Measuring & Making Shims

Before cutting shims from shim stock, you need to determine the necessary thickness. This will depend on the job they’re for. For large thicknesses, you might need to stack multiple shims together, and with large gaps that require upwards of 4 shims, you should use caution.

Think about the environment in question to determine the material you need to use. If it may be exposed to moisture or chemicals, for example, you may need to go with a corrosion-resistant metal.

Once you know the specifications needed, we can start cutting your shims. We’re able to cut simple shims or even more complex ones, as we have all the equipment necessary to meet any requirements.

Shim Metals

While other materials may sometimes be suitable, metals are the most common materials for shims. Metals are suitable for creating small, accurate parts, and different metals have various characteristics to meet different needs. At The Shim Shack, we make shims from a range of metals.

Different Types of Shims

Various shim options are available, in terms of both material and design. The type of shims you’ll need will depend on the application.

Arbor Shims

Arbor shims look similar to washers and prevent axial movement of components. Sizes for arbor shims are measured by three factors: the thickness, the outer diameter, and the inner diameter.

Variable Shims

There are two types of variable shims: lengthening and shortening. Lengthening shims go over the threads at the base of the shaft, while shortening shims go over the shaft under the head of the screw. These are typical for punch and die assemblies.

Variable shims are measured in the same way as arbor shims using the thickness as well as the inner and outer diameters.

Slotted Shims

There are many designs for slotted shims, and they’re used in a wide range of applications. They generally have an open u-shape slot so they can easily be slotted in around screws and bolts. They also work well just as standard spacers.

Slotted shims are measured by the depth, width, and height, but the height doesn’t include the length of an additional tab if one is included.

Shim Rings

Shim rings are used in gaps between machined components, often alongside retaining rings. These shims also use the thickness, inner diameter, and outer diameter for measurements.

Shim Uses

Shims are common in the aerospace industry where accurate tolerances are crucial, or to help with component repair. In such applications shims need to be strong, accurate, and corrosion resistant.

Companies in the automotive industry use shims to adjust spaces between parts during manufacturing or maintenance. Bronze and brass shims are common here.

Medical equipment can use shims to create exact tolerances in certain devices, prosthetics, surgical robots, and imaging equipment. Corrosion-resistant shims are widely used in marine applications, as they won’t be affected by moisture.

The oil and gas industry makes use of various types of shims. This can be for things like aligning mated components, managing tolerances in motors and pumps, and as thrust washers.

Finding the Right Shims

Shims have a huge range of applications, and are customizable to meet your exact needs. Whatever you’re using shims for, at The Shim Shack, we can help guide you to the perfect design and can even advise you on suitable materials. If you have any questions for us, contact us today.