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Six 3M Friction Shims of varying shapes and sizes against a black background.

Securing critical automotive joints with 3M™ Friction Shims

A simple, strong solution for critical joints anywhere on the vehicle


Why do automotive joints fail?

Every day, you strive for a balance among competing demands: lighter weight and higher performance vs. safety factors and cost. Entire designs depend on the resulting load calculations. Often, you don’t know if they’re accurate until testing – well after the design is complete. Bolted joint failure happens. Here’s a look at why.

  • Static joints
    Static joints

    Shear forces are increasing – and not just within the vehicle powertrain. Electric vehicles generate high engine torque and shear force and often weigh significantly more, putting strain on critical joints throughout the vehicle. If a joint begins to slip, it may lead to significant failure.

  • Torsional joints
    Torsional joints

    Traditional friction enhancement has focused on torque, generally from fast-spinning mechanisms such as timing sprockets within internal combustion engines. Even the slightest slippage can potentially result in engine failure.

  • Automobile Chassis

    Automotive applications such as chassis, suspensions, and others generally involve e-coated steel or aluminum. These materials make traditional friction-enhancing solutions difficult to apply.

3M™ Friction Shims: up to 5x increased friction

Ultra-thin, compact, highly reproducible and tailored to customers designs, 3M™ Friction Shims consist of a nickel coated steel substrate with partially embedded diamonds. When placed between two components in a bolted connection, the diamonds “bite” into the surface of each component to create a microform fit. This significantly increases friction between the two parts, strengthening and stabilizing the connection.

Close up image of multiple friction shims against a black background

Some 200 million 3M™ Friction Shims are currently in use on vehicles around the world, without a reported field failure.

Benefits for every critical automotive joint

3M provides Friction Shims for nearly any critical joint in the vehicle: chassis, subframes, e-drive mounts, strut assemblies, sway bars, coil spring seats and more.

  • Car Weight Reduction
    Weight Reduction

    By increasing load transfer in bolted joints, Friction Shims allow for much higher resistance to rotational and shear forces without adding bolts or increasing component sizes. In many cases they can even allow for component downsizing, excellent for lightweighting.

  • Managing Shear Forces
    Managing Shear Forces

    Our Friction Shims protect automotive bolted joints against higher shear loads. This is especially critical in electrified vehicles, which are heavier compared to traditional vehicles. They can preserve and strengthen bolted joints in e-coated chassis, battery mounts, suspensions and many other places throughout the vehicle.

  • Friction Shims for Design Flexibility
    Design Flexibility

    Keep your current design by using Friction Shims as a drop-in solution for improved friction coefficients. They can also create new possibilities: as force increases, load-bearing components can remain the same or decrease in size.

  • Engine Torque Increase
    Engine Torque Increase
    Proven through years of failure-free performance in internal combustion engines worldwide, 3M™ Friction Shims can increase engine torque transfer by 3 to 5 times in ICE and ePowertrain applications without increasing component sizes or adding significant weight.
  • Noise Vibration Harshness Reduction (NVH)
    Noise Vibration Harshness Reduction (NVH)

    Enhancing friction coefficients can eliminate movement in bolted connections. Reduced micromovements in the vehicle chassis may mean less noise – as well as increased passenger comfort and a better passenger experience.

  • Friction Shims for Car Safety

    You’ll see the difference that 3M Friction Shims make during testing, and long-term in continued on-the-road performance. With 3 to 5 times the friction – and the higher load capacities that result – your designs are much better protected against bolted joint fatigue, loosening or failure.

We’ll help you get a grip from design through production

3M supplies Friction Shims in various grades that can increase coefficient of static friction by a factor of 3 to 5. We can provide Friction Shims for crankshaft or camshaft assemblies, as well as chassis and subframes. Preassembly solutions include 2 or 3 dimensional clips for faster installation. Friction Shims can also be disassembled and reused.

  • 3M Friction Shims for design-in
    3M Friction Shims for design-in

    3M Friction Shims can help you streamline your design, and lightweight the overall vehicle, by downsizing critical automotive joints. You can build them with fewer fasteners. You can simplify them without the worry of failure under force loads. Our Friction Shims perform in a very broad range of conditions and mating surfaces.

  • 3M Friction Shims for quick fixes
    3M Friction Shims for quick fixes
    We know about those moments when your designs hang in the balance due to unexpected failure rates in testing. Our Friction Shims can be a quick drop-in solution: increase the friction, strengthen and stabilize bolted connections and preserve your work without costly redesigns.

Need Help Finding the Right Solution for Automotive Design Challenges?

3M is constantly working to meet the evolving challenges of automotive OEM and Tier suppliers worldwide. If you need help finding an existing solution or would like to talk about specific ideas you’re working on, get in touch with us.