Differences Between 304 and 316 Stainless Steel

12 October 2020

One metal material that is often maximised by different industries is stainless steel. Generally, stainless steel is a type of alloy that has iron and chromium. The integration of chromium to this metal type allows it to obtain a thin layer of oxide that protects its surface from corrosion. As the chromium of a stainless steel increases, the more it can resist corrosive elements from the surroundings.

Stainless steel can be classified into four types. One type, however, that is recommended for the environment with corrosive elements is known as austenitic stainless steel. Austenitic stainless steel has excellent mechanical properties and overall corrosion resistance that makes it great for the mentioned environment setting. To date, two grades of austenitic stainless steel that is utilised today are grades 304 and 316.

To know more about these two grades of austenitic stainless steel, then here are some important factors and elements that make them somehow different.

Overall Composition

As mentioned, stainless steel in general is comprised of iron and chromium. But what makes these two grades different is the percentage of their accompanying elements. 304 stainless steel has around 8 to 10.5% of nickel and 18 to 20% of chromium. Moreover, this austenitic stainless steel grade has manganese, silicon, and carbon, and iron. 316 stainless steel also has most elements found in 304 stainless steel. It has, however, around 2 to 3% of molybdenum that already alters its general features.

Strength and Durability

The strength and durability of both 304 and 316 stainless steel grades are exceptional. Additionally, the high percentage of chromium and nickel of both stainless steel grades allows them to obtain excellent resistance to corrosion and rust.

Corrosion Resistance

But the addition of molybdenum on 316 stainless steel grades allows them to possess an increased corrosion resistance. Even though molybdenum only accounts for 2 to 3% of 316 stainless steel, it can easily make the material resistance against environments that are exposed to chlorides and chlorinated solutions. Applications that would involve salt exposure can easily benefit from the increased corrosion resistance and longer lifespan of materials made from 316 stainless steel.

Total Price Value

What makes 304 stainless steel more popular to 316 stainless steel is due to its cheaper pricing. 304 stainless steel can already provide the needed durability, tensile strength, and corrosion resistance under most residential, commercial, and industrial applications despite its affordable value. 316 stainless steel, on the other hand, tend to be more expensive given that it can easily withstand more sensitive environments and last for a longer time.

Common Applications

304 stainless steel materials are mostly used in fabricating appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, air conditioning units, and so on. Heat exchangers, commercial food processing equipment, pipes, and fasteners can also benefit from this stainless steel grade. 316 stainless steel materials, on the other hand, can be used in making chemical processing and storage equipment, medical devices, refinery equipment, and other products that will be exposed to marine environments.

Knowing the differences between these two stainless steel grades allows you to choose the best one for your intended application. If you have more questions about these two stainless steel grades, feel free to ask us at Metcon.

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