Stainless Steel 304 Vs 316

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Stainless Steel 304 Vs 316

Check properties and melting range of SS 304 and 316

What is 304 Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel 304 grade is the most versatile and widely used of the austenitic stainless steels due to which it has chromium nickel content and low carbon. 304 alloy stainless steel is a durable material in terms of durability, tensile strength, oxidation, and corrosion resistance. Its melting point is reached at temperatures ranging between 2,550 °F - 2,650 °F. However, the closer stainless steel 304 alloy reaches to its melting point, the more tensile strength it loses. It is particularly exceptional for its high tensile strength of about 621 MPa (90 ksi). Grade 304 stainless steel has a maximum operating temperature of about 870˚C. 

Stainless Steel 304 Properties
It is one of the most common stainless steel grade, 304 stainless steel has excellent corrosion resistance due to its high percentage of chromium. Its chemical composition consists of chromium 18% & nickel 8%. At times carbon and manganese are also present at small amounts. Hence this makes it resistance to oxidation, which makes it easy for sanitization and cleansing.   

Stainless Steel 304 Applications
Some of the common applications of grade 304 are:-

  • Storage tanks
  • Auto moldings and trim
  • Electrical enclosures
  • Wheel covers
  • Kitchen equipment and appliances
  • Heat exchangers
  • Pressure vessels

What is 316 Stainless Steel?

Stainless Steel 316 is an austenitic chromium-nickel stainless and heat-resisting steel with superior corrosion resistance as compared to other chromium-nickel steels when exposed to many types of chemical corrodents such as sea water, brine solutions. It has properties such as corrosion resistance, high strength and high concentrations of chromium and nickel. Stainless steel 316 grade is a popular alloy of stainless steel due to its melting range of 2,500 °F – 2,550 °F. It provides a tensile strength of 579 MPa (84 ksi) and a maximum use temperature of around 800˚C. Additionally, grade 316 stainless steel has added molybdenum in its formulation, which improves the alloy’s resistance to acids, alkalis, and chloride pitting.

Stainless Steel 316 Properties
In terms of commonality Grade 316 stainless steel comes in a close second to Grade 304 stainless steel. It’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two with the naked eye due to its physical and mechanical properties to grade 304.

In grade 316 the primary differentiator is the material composition i.e chromium 16%, nickel 10% and 2% molybdenum. Hence due the increased nickel content and the inclusion of molybdenum makes grade 316 stainless steel a bit costlier than grade 304 stainless steel per ounce of material.

Stainless Steel 316 Applications
Some of the common applications of grade 304 are:-

  • Marine Parts
  • Pharmaceutical equipment
  • Chemical equipment
  • Medical-surgical instruments
  • Outdoor electrical enclosures
  • Pulp & paper processing equipment
  • Refining equipment

What is the difference between 304 stainless steel & 316 stainless steel

304 stainless steel and 316 stainless steel looks very similar. Both are austenitic, non-magnetic and non-hardenable through heat treatment.  These stainless steel grades resist corrosion, are durable in nature and can be easily formed and fabricated.

The difference in their structure is primarily due to the addition of molybdenum to stainless steel 316. The addition of molybdenum further increases the corrosion resistance of the material which makes it ideal for more acidic environments.

Grade 304 stainless steel is less expensive and is a great choice for kitchen applications including appliances, pans, pots, sinks and flatware. It is also useful in wheel covers, building facades, pressure vessels, heat exchangers, hose clamps and other application which involves fresh water environment.  It is relevant for liquid storage, tanks and food prep equipment.

With the addition of molybdenum, 316 stainless steel is considerably more resistant to corrosive environment than 304 stainless steel. Because of its greater resistance to oxidations, 316 grade is widely used in pulp and paper processing equipment, refining equipment, pharmaceutical processing equipment and surgical instrumentation. It is more suitable for sea water environments and marine applications. 316 is more suitable for marine applications & sea water environments.

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