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What are the advantages of using a Shim?

Shims are used as compensators to absorb tolerances between mating components. They significantly reduce manufacturing time and costs as they eliminate the need for each component to be precision machined in order to achieve the proper fit and function of the total assembly. During the assembly process, Shims provide adjustment to compensate for accumulated tolerances that significantly reduces machining and assembly time. Additionally, Shims are commonly used to preserve the faces between mating components cutting down the required machining time during rebuilds / retrofitting.

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How does a Shim reduce costs?

Shims can reduce manufacturing and assembly costs in two important ways:

  1. By using a Shim to fill the gap between two machined components, you can reduce the tolerance requirements of those machined components, thus lowering machining costs.
  2. In assemblies where vibration and wear occur, a Shim can act as a low-cost sacrificial item that will take the brunt of the damage and save wear and tear on the costly assemblies. The Shim can be replaced during scheduled maintenance or teardown.

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How do you properly design a Shim?

The form of a Shim is determined by its function. Ideally, the Shim will follow the contour of the mating components. Thickness will be determined by the space the Shim needs to fill. Host material type, durability and exposure to environmental factors will determine the best material and finish for the Shim. SPIROL's Shim Specialists can provide price quotes and recommend materials and Shim configurations based on your specific requirements.

Holes can typically be within approximately 2.5mm (.1") of any other feature. This is mostly applicable to short run or prototype orders where a tooling investment does not make good business sense.

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What material should I use for my Shim?

This depends on the purpose the Shim will serve. Is it a Thrust Washer, a wear plate, or a washer? Do you have to fill a variable thickness space? The answers to these questions, as well as product application, mating material, life expectancy and the environment the Shim will be subject to will determine the best material choice. SPIROL's Shim Specialists will be happy to assist you with recommendations based on your requirements.

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What are the standard material tolerances of Shim stock?

Typically the tolerance of Shim stock is 10% of material thickness in most applications.

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What are some common finishes for Shims that I should consider?

Most Shim finishes are designed to protect against particular environmental conditions, such as exposure to salts and corrosives, humidity and galvanic corrosion. Some of the more popular finishes are cadmium plating, zinc plating, black oxide coating and anodizing. SPIROL's Shim Specialists can recommend the most appropriate finish based on your specific requirements.

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What is the difference between a Shim and a Thrust Washer?

A Thrust Washer looks like any other washer, but is actually used as a bearing. It is used in rotary assemblies (such as a gear box or axle) to control axial, or side to side motion and keeps the components aligned along the shaft or axle. Because a Thrust Washer is typically subject to high heat and wear, a hardened material is recommended. Thrust Washers can be hardened by two different methods: Through hardened Thrust Washers are heat treated to provide a consistent hardness through the entire thickness of the washer. Case hardened Thrust Washers have a softer, ductile core which reduces the likelihood of fracturing. SPIROL's Shim Specialists will help determine which type is best for your particular application.

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What Shims are peelbable?

Both Laminated Shims and Edge Bonded Shims are peelable. Edge Bonded Shims are easier to peel since only the edges are bonded together, while Laminated Shims act almost like a Solid Shim since the full surface of the individual Shims are bonded together. Check out this White Paper that covers the differences between Laminated Shims and Edge Bonded Shims in more detail.

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What is a Laminated Shim or Adjustable Shim Pack and what are the advantages?

There are three types of Adjustable Shims; Surface Bonded Laminated Shims, Edge Bonded Shims and Shim Packs. These Shims will compensate for any tolerance within a specific range. For example, if you know your Shim requirement is always going to be somewhere between 1.3mm - 2.5mm (.05" - .10"), SPIROL can create a Shim Pack to meet any thickness within that range. Not only is this a more convenient way of shimming your application, it reduces the physical inventory space required and reduces the number of Shim SKUs required.

SURFACE BONDED LAMINATED SHIMS are typically produced from low carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum or brass. They are adhered throughout the entire surface between each layer of material and the layers are pressed together to cure much like how particle board is manufactured. They provide adjustability in incremental steps of 0.05mm or 0.08mm (.002" or .003") per layer.

EDGE BONDED SHIMS are individual Shims stacked up with features aligned and a thin layer of adhesive is applied to the exterior edge of the stack-up. Edge Bonded Shims are great for field service as they allow your technician to quickly and easily adjust the Shim thickness to match the tolerance required.

SHIM PACKS are similar to Edge Bonded Shims except the parts are tied together and presented as a single component. They can be created from a wide range of materials. Because tied Shim Packs can be created from multiple thicknesses, a broader range of thicknesses with tighter tolerances can be easily obtained.

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What is a Bearing Shim?

Bearing Shims are used primarily to set or adjust the pre-load on the bearing races so as to ensure that the bearings roll/move as intended. Bearing Shims are different than Thrust Washers in that Bearing Shims are typically in a static application where Thrust Washers are in more of a dynamic application.

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What materials are recommended for Bearing Shims?

Bearing Shims are typically produced from 1008/1010 low carbon steel depending on the application. The flatness and consistency of thickness are the critical features for Bearing Shims. The races on the bearing need to apply consistent force against the rollers in order for them to function correctly.

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Does SPIROL supply Shim Stock?

SPIROL supplies a limited amount of Shim Stock. However, we do specialize in the manufacture of Precision Engineered Shims ranging from simple OD/ID shapes to complex geometries - particularly in low to medium volumes. All Shims are custom-made to customer specifications from a comprehensive inventory of raw materials in thicknesses from 0.02mm (.001") to 9.5mm (.375"). Our internal abilities are focused on making high quality Shims at a very competitive cost with short lead times. Please view or download our Shim brochure that provides more information about our Shim product line.

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United States

SPIROL Shim Division
321 Remington Rd
Stow, OH 44224
Tel: +1 330 920 3655
Fax: +1 330 920 3659
Email: info@spirol.com

SPIROL International Corporation
30 Rock Ave
Danielson, CT 06239
Tel: +1 860 774 8571
Fax: +1 860 774 2048
Email: info@spirol.com


3103 St. Etienne Blvd.
Windsor, Ontario N8W 5B1
Tel: +1 519 974 3334
Fax: +1 519 974 6550
Email: info-ca@spirol.com


Rua Mafalda Barnabé Soliane, 134
Comercial Vitória Martini,
Distrito Industrial
CEP 13347-610 Indaiatuba, SP
Tel: +55 19 3936 2701
Fax: +55 19 3936 7121
Email: info-br@spirol.com


Avenida Avante #250
Parque Industrial Avante Apodaca
Apodaca, N.L. 66607
Tel: +52 (01) 81 8385 4390
Fax: +52 (01) 81 8385 4391
Email: info-mx@spirol.com


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17 Princewood Road
Corby, Northants, NN17 4ET
Tel: +44 1536 444800
Fax: +44 1536 203415
Email: info-uk@spirol.com


Aleja 3 Maja 12
00–391, Warszawa
Tel: +48 510 039 345
Email: info-pl@spirol.com


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18 Rue Léna Bernstein
51100 Reims
Tel: +33 3 26 36 31 42
Fax: +33 3 26 09 19 76
Email: info-fr@spirol.com

Czech Republic

SPIROL Czech Republic
Evropská 2588 / 33a
160 00 Prague 6-Dejvice
Tel: +420 226 218 935
Email: info-cz@spirol.com


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Prannerstrasse 15
80333 Munich
Tel: +49 89 4 111 905 71
Fax: +49 89 4 111 905 72
Email: info-de@spirol.com

Spain and Portugal

Plantes 3 i 4
Gran Via de Carles III, 84
08028 Barcelona
Tel/Fax: +34 932 71 64 28
Email: info-ib@spirol.com

SPIROL Asia Headquarters
1st Floor, Building 22, Plot D9, District D
No. 122 HeDan Road
Wai Gao Qiao Free Trade Zone
Shanghai, China 200131
Tel: +86 21 5046-1451
Fax: +86 21 5046-1540
Email: info-cn@spirol.com

16th Floor, 396 Seocho-daero,
Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Tel: +82 (0) 10 9429 1451
Email: info-kr@spirol.com