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Difference Between Stainless Steel 316 and 304

Jan. 12, 2024

304 stainless steel vs 316




The cost of stainless steel primarily hinges on the alloys incorporated into its composition. While all stainless steels necessitate a minimum of 10.5% chromium and are alloyed with a significant amount of iron, the presence of other elements plays a crucial role in shaping their properties and characteristics, consequently influencing the overall cost.


316 contains a minimum 2.0% molybdenum which makes it much more corrosion resistant than 304 however, as it is a more expensive element, generally makes 316 a more expensive grade of metal.


Magnetic Properties


Both grades are austenitic, indicating they inherently lack magnetic properties. However, cold working can impact this characteristic. When stainless steel undergoes forming or cutting processes, there may be a slight enhancement in its magnetic properties, albeit minor.


Corrosion Resistance:


While both grades offer good corrosion resistance, stainless steel 316 surpasses 304 in environments containing chlorides, such as saltwater or coastal areas. The molybdenum content in 316 provides an extra layer of protection, making it more resistant to pitting and crevice corrosion in these challenging conditions.


Temperature Resistance:


Stainless steel 316 exhibits better resistance to high temperatures compared to 304. This is due to the presence of molybdenum, which enhances the alloy's ability to withstand elevated temperatures without compromising its corrosion resistance. This makes 316 suitable for applications involving exposure to high heat.


Strength and Durability:


Both 316 and 304 are strong and durable stainless steel grades, but 316 has a slight edge in terms of strength. The addition of molybdenum contributes to higher tensile strength and improved overall durability, making stainless steel 316 more robust in demanding applications.


Stainless Steel Sheet Grade 304

Applications for 304 Stainless Steel


Most of the applications of stainless steel 304 are attributed to its high concentration of Chromium which gives the alloy excellent corrosion resistance. These applications include:


  • In making kitchen appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers

  • Used to make heat exchangers

  • Used in commercial food processing equipment and kitchen fittings like sinks and splashbacks

  • Used to make saucepans, cutlery and flatware


  • Architectural paneling

  • In making nuts, bolts, screws and nuts

  • Used in making brewery, food, and pharmaceutical production equipment


Generally, Stainless steel is used in applications that would corrode standard carbon steel.


Applications for 316 Stainless Steel


Stainless steel 316 was originally developed for use in paper mills. It is now commonly used in various applications which include:


  • Making food, chemical and petrol production and processing equipment

  • Construction of laboratory benches and equipment

  • Architectural panelling in the coastal region

  • Boat fitting

  • Mining screens

  • Kitchenware, sanitaryware and troughs

  • Tubing

  • Medical implants


Stainless 316 has better corrosion resistance than Stainless steel and often exhibits better strength at high temperatures.


Choosing the Right Stainless Steel Grade


Environmental Considerations:


The choice between 316 and 304 often depends on the environment in which the stainless steel will be used. If the application involves exposure to chloride-rich environments, such as coastal regions, chemical processing plants, or marine settings, stainless steel 316 is the preferred choice. For less corrosive environments, 304 may suffice.


Application-Specific Requirements:


Consider the specific requirements of the application, such as temperature, corrosion resistance, and strength. Stainless steel 316 is preferable in situations where higher corrosion resistance and temperature resistance are crucial. However, for applications where cost is a significant factor and the environment is less aggressive, 304 may be more suitable.


Conclusion: Navigating Stainless Steel Grades


In conclusion, the choice between stainless steel grades 316 and 304 hinges on the specific demands of the application. While both grades share common attributes, their nuanced differences make each better suited to particular scenarios. Understanding these distinctions allows for informed decisions in selecting the most appropriate stainless steel grade for a given project.


For inquiries about stainless steel grades or to explore the options available, feel free to contact us. As a trusted supplier of stainless steel products, we are committed to providing high-quality materials that meet the unique needs of your projects, ensuring durability and performance in diverse applications.

 Stainless Steel Sheet Grade 304


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