What Is The Difference Between 304 And 316 Stainless Steel?

Differences Between 304 & 316 Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is meant to endure corrosion. The best for that purpose is usually austenitic steel which contains chromium and nickel in large amounts. Apart from being highly resistant to corrosion, this type of steel can be welded and formed into various shapes. 304 and 316 are two of the common austenitic stainless steel grades stocked by steel stock holders. So what are the differences between these two steel grades?

304 Stainless Steel

This is the stainless steel you are most likely to get from a steel stockholder. It has a nickel content of 8 to 10.5 percent while the chromium content stands between 18 percent and 20 percent. Grade 304 stainless steel also contains carbon, silicone, and manganese. It is corrosion resistance due to its high nickel content. 304 stainless steel is mainly used for the following applications:

  • Appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators.
  • Food processors for commercial establishments.
  • Pipes
  • Fasteners
  • Heat exchangers
  • Structures in places where standard carbon steel is prone to corrosion.

316 Stainless Steel

Grade 316 stainless steel is similar to 304 because of its high nickel and chromium content. It is also composed of iron, carbon, manganese, and silicone. The difference between the two steel grades is the molybdenum contained in 316 stainless steel in the range of between 2 and 3 percent. In 304 molybdenum exists only in trace amounts. It is because of this that grade 316 stainless steel can better resist corrosion.

Ask steel suppliers for grade 316 stainless steel if you intend to do any of the following:

  • Marine applications.
  • Refinery equipment.
  • Chemical storage and processing equipment.
  • Medical devices.

304 Or 316 Steel, Which One Should You Use?

The following are the instances when using grade 304 stainless steel is a great choice:

  • Applications that require the use of an excellently formable metal. Grade 316 contains more molybdenum which greatly reduces its formability.
  • Where the cost of the work is a major factor. Steel stock holders sell grade 304 cheaply compared to grade 316 stainless steel.

Choose grade 316 stainless steel if you want to use it for the following:

  • A setting where corrosion is highly likely.
  • Where you need to use steel underwater or consistently expose it to water.
  • Applications that require stronger and harder steel.

You don’t have to be an expert to know the type of steel you need for your work. Your nearest steel stockholder should be able to help you make an informed choice.

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