Summary. Shims are crucial for accurate alignments in mechanical assemblies, preventing damage and extending machinery lifespan. Available materials include plastic, stainless steel, brass, aluminum, and copper, each with specific strengths and weaknesses suitable for different applications and environments.


Stephens Gaskets is one of the country’s leading suppliers of shims. We manufacture many different types of shims, in a wide range of materials, sizes, and thicknesses. So, we are able to support as many applications as possible. Mechanical assemblies rely on accurate alignments in order to function and endure.

Shortcuts in manufacturing processes can lead to machine failure, unexpected costs, and even safety concerns. Therefore, it is important to adhere to the correct specifications and ensure assemblies are fitted with the correct parts. This will ensure the mechanical product remains safe to use and stands the test of time.

Using Shims

Shims are components, which an inexperienced designer may overlook when it comes to fitting together an assembly. However, shims play an important role in the correction functioning of a mechanical device.

A shim is often used as a compensator to fill the small gaps between objects inside a device. They are thin pieces of material, that are often made from metal. When there is a loose fitting part inside a device, damage can occur easily as components can hit into each other.

These components can be crucial to the functioning of the machinery. This is because if they get damaged, the performance of the machine can easily be compromised. Therefore, by fitting the shim into the gaps, shims can reduce manufacturing time and costs. In addition, extend the lifespan of a piece of machinery.

Different Types Of Shims And Uses

When it comes to selecting the right shim, materials and other physical specifications matter. Shims are available in many different types of materials. For instance, plastic, stainless steel, brass, aluminium, and copper.

Materials Strength and Weaknesses

Each material has its own set of properties that will provide each shim with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Consequently, when choosing the right shim, it is important that the shim’s properties are taken into account. This will ensure the shim will be appropriate in the environment and application it is planned for use in.

For example, plastic shims would be inappropriate to use in high-temperature applications. Whereas, stainless steel materials would work well. For marine environments, brass shims are ideal due to the fact that they will not degrade from saline exposure.

Lightweight Shims 

If you are looking for a lightweight shim, a material such as plastic or aluminium could be the ideal shim material. Aluminium shims can also withstand high temperatures too. Additionally, both materials are able to be cut to exacting dimensions, shapes, and sizes here at Stephens Gaskets.

Another appealing property for these shim types is the fact that they are both relatively non-oxidising. Therefore both materials have a relatively long shelf life.

Strong and Chemically Resistant Shims 

Some applications will require a more heavy-duty shim that can withstand a number of different environments. This is especially the case for large industrial machines that work with corrosives, biologicals, and volatile substances. For these types of applications, brass shims are often used – especially for salty environments.

However, one of the toughest shim materials is stainless steel. They are high in strength, durability, and corrosion resistance. Therefore, stainless steel shims are most ideal for use in the petrochemical industry and the pharmaceutical sector, as well as any other application that requires a shim that can withstand high endurance and high temperatures.

Contact Us Today

To find out more about different types of shims and shim materials at Stephens Gaskets, then please get in touch with us today. Additionally, if you have found this blog helpful, you may wish to read our previous blog on: The Cost Benefits of Custom Shim Washers or PTFE Gasket Material: The Benefits.

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