Washers and shims are relatively similar components, and both are regularly used for automotive manufacturing, machinery, industrial equipment, and other applications. As both component types come in the form of thin material pieces that may be used to fill gaps or increase support, it is important to understand the difference between each. In this blog, we will discuss washers and shims, allowing you to understand their similarities and differences.
A washer is a thin plate that contains a hole in its center, and such components are often constructed from metal or plastic. Often being donut-shaped, the washer will typically have an outside diameter that is twice the size of the inside diameter. For their application, a washer is often paired with a screw, bolt, or nut in order to distribute a load more efficiently. This is very beneficial for certain assemblies in which the forces of bearing loads may break a fastener if it is by itself. Washers can also be used for other means, including acting as a spacer, wear pad, or preload indicating device.
Washers come in a number of types, but the most common are plain, spring, and locking washers. A plain disk washer is the most basic type, and it may be used to distribute a load and protect the surface of an assembly. Additionally, plain types may also be used for insulation. Spring washers provide axial flexibility, and they are useful for applications where vibration is a concern. Locking washers are also very popular for vibration concerns as they are specifically designed to secure a fastener so that it does not loosen over time.
A shim is a material that is thin and may either be tapered or wedged. With a shim, the small gaps or spaces between surfaces may be filled, and the shim is tasked with increasing support and providing a more level surface. Shims can be constructed from many materials such as wood, plastic, metal, and stone. Additionally, they can also be manufactured in any needed shape as to accommodate the specific assembly. Due to their more general role, shims can be as simple as a desk leg support to a more robust component that is placed between two automobile parts. Shims are important space fillers as they can protect components from wear and damage as well as are flexible in their design. Shims can also come in a number of types, and common variations include end shim components, cage shim components, and more.
Altogether, shims and washers are quite similar in their design and may overlap in their roles from time to time. As such, there are certain instances in which a washer and a shim may be interchangeable with one another, such as when they are used to fill the gap of a particular assembly. Nevertheless, shims are more intended to be used as a spacer while washers are best for threaded fastener load distribution. When it comes time to begin procuring the various washer and shim components that you need for your operations, there is no better alternative to ASAP Part Services.
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