Metal shims are thin pieces of metal used to fill gaps between surfaces, pieces of equipment, and fastenings. Shims come in a variety of forms, including circular washers and thin strips. Shim stock is metal sheet material that is manufactured at a pre-set thickness specifically for use in shims. It typically features a taper or wedge end that allows it to slide into narrow gaps. Stainless steel is the most common material used for shim stock due to its strength, hardness, and corrosion resistance.
Stainless Steel Grades, Alloys, and Tempers
The most popular stainless steel shim stock materials include:
- Grade 17-7: Precipitation-hardened chromium-nickel-aluminum steel with high strength, medium-range corrosion resistance, and minimal distortion when exposed to high temperatures. Ideal for use in washers, springs, bellows, and diaphragms.
- Grade 17-4: The most popular precipitation-hardened stainless steel grade. It is tougher than 17-7, with the same level of corrosion resistance and strength. 17-4 SS is highly ductile but requires high-powered forming equipment. This grade is used in aircraft turbines, oil refinery equipment, chemical manufacturing, and nuclear reactors.
- Grade 301: Grade 301 is an austenitic stainless steel with 17% chromium, 7% nickel, and high carbon content. It exhibits high tensile strength, but lower corrosion and temperature resistance. 301 works well in high-strength operations with no exposure to moisture, corrosives, or high temperatures. Common 301 SS applications include exterior automotive components, stoves, railcar structures, and trailer parts.
- Grade 302: Grade 302 SS is austenitic, with 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It has high carbon content to enhance strength while providing good corrosion resistance. It does not handle high temperatures, so it is ideal for low-heat industrial applications, including stamping, wire forming, spinning, fastening hardware, and pressure vessels.
- Grade 304 & 304L: An austenitic chromium-nickel alloy, Grade 304 has the same percentage of chromium and nickel as 302 but with a maximum of 0.08% carbon content. Due to its superior corrosion resistance, SS 304 is used for stainless steel appliances, commercial food processing surfaces and equipment, outdoor structures, plumbing, piping, cookware, and fasteners.
- Grade 309: Grade 309 has a chromium content of 23%, which makes it better suited for high-temperature applications. It exhibits exceptional resistance to corrosion and oxidation at room temperature. High carbon content enhances the strength of Grade 309 but makes it less resistant to corrosion in high-moisture. Grade 309 is ideal for use in furnaces and incinerators, paper mills, oil and gas refineries, and thermal process equipment.
- Grade 316 & 316L: Stainless steel Grade 316 features high levels of chromium and nickel, with a high level of molybdenum, for outstanding corrosion resistance. It withstands corrosion in marine environments, which makes it ideal for chemical manufacturing, marine operations, oil and gas refineries, and medical equipment.
- Grade 321: Grade 321 stainless steel includes titanium, for a more stable corrosion-resistant formulation. It is especially resistant to corrosion at extremely high temperatures. This makes Grade 321 SS perfect for aircraft exhaust systems, furnace and bellows components, heating elements, mineral processing, and burner piping.
- Grade 410: Grade 410 stainless steel plate consists of 12% chromium, for optimal corrosion resistance. It can be heat treated to enhance strength, hardness, and ductility. Stainless steel Grade 410 provides corrosion-resistant plating for ladders, turbines, process pumps and valves, oil and gas processing, and fastening hardware.
- Grade 430: Grade 430 features the same level of corrosion resistance as 304, but with a higher level of formability. It is resistant to nitric acid and can be bent, formed, and drawn more easily than other stainless steel formulations. It is typically used in appliance liners and panels, automotive trim, and heating element supports.
For complete information about the above stainless steel grades, alloys, and tempers, please refer to Trinity’s product guides.
Benefits of Stainless Steel
Depending on the grade, stainless steel offers numerous benefits, including:
- Exceptional Corrosion Resistance: Stainless steel shims are ideal for industrial applications because they are highly resistant to corrosion in both oxygenated and non-oxygenated environments due to their high chromium content.
- Pleasing Aesthetic: With its bright surface finish, stainless steel offers high aesthetic appeal. It can be polished to achieve desired finishes after fabrication.
- Easy Fabrication: Stainless steel is compatible with a wide range of fabrication services, including laser and waterjet cutting, stamping, CNC machining, and more.
- Long Service Life: Because of its corrosion resistance and the fact that stainless steel is more durable than other shim materials, stainless steel is the preferred choice in applications requiring long service life.
- Easy to Clean and Sterilize: Stainless steel can withstand frequent cleaning and sterilization without tarnishing, making them ideal for applications in the medical and food industries which maintain strict cleanliness standards.
- High Strength-to-Weight Ratio: Austenitic stainless steel grades are cold worked, resulting in increased strength while maintaining reduced material thickness compared to other materials.
- 100% Recyclable: Stainless steel can be continuously recycled. Over 50% of new stainless steel components are made of remelted scrap parts, saving money and resources.
Stainless Steel Shim Stock Applications
Stainless steel shim stock sheets and blanks are critical for applications that require high corrosion resistance in harsh operating conditions, including:
- Metal fabrication
- Tool and die spacing and alignment
- Spring clips, retainers, and washers
- Equipment alignment
- Medical and surgical devices and tools
- Food and beverage processing
- Machine repair and maintenance
- Pump and motor mounts
- Prototyping equipment
Stainless Steel Shim Stock at Trinity Brand Industries
Trinity Brand Industries is a leading provider of stainless steel shim stock products and services. With over three decades of experience with metal fabrication, we have the knowledge, skill, and capabilities to provide superior quality metal stock and finished products for a wide range of industries. See our product guides to learn more about our extensive selection of metal products. For more information, contact us or request a quote for your project!