What are the 2 Most Common Types of Stainless Steel Used in Fabrication?

11 June 2020

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron that contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium, which helps it from resisting corrosion. The presence of chromium also allows the stainless steel to develop a passive film that protects it from the effects of oxygen. Aside from corrosion resistance, stainless steel is also known for its resistance to fire and heat, excellent appearance, ease of fabrication, and recyclability.

To date, there are four classes of stainless steel. These classes are classified according to their alloying elements that affect their overall microstructure.

One class of stainless steel that is most often used in different industries is the 300 series stainless steel. This specific series is classified as austenitic and can only be hardened through cold working methods. This class of stainless steel is known for its strength and low maintenance requirements, which makes the following grades of 300 series stainless steel the most used in fabrication.

304 Stainless Steel

Grade 304 stainless steel is known as the most common and most used austenitic stainless steel in the market right now. It typically contains 8% nickel and 18% chromium, which contributes to the corrosion- and oxidation-resistance of this grade of stainless steel. Some other alloying elements that can be found on 304 stainless steel are manganese, silicon, and carbon.

This stainless steel grade is also known for its extreme durability, which makes the material suitable for fabricating residential and commercial appliances, commercial food processing equipment, construction materials, storage tanks, and many more. Places like kitchens, hospitals, laboratories, and industrial buildings maximise products out of 304 stainless steel.

If your application requires excellent formability, then you must go for this grade of stainless steel. Additionally, 304 stainless steel fabrication is cheaper than other grades of stainless steel.

316 Stainless Steel

Another popular austenitic stainless steel that is widely fabricated in different industries today is grade 316 stainless steel. The overall composition of this stainless steel grade includes 10% nickel, 16% chromium, and an additional 2% for molybdenum. Just like 304 stainless steel, this stainless steel grade also contains manganese, silicon, and carbon as additional alloying elements.

The inclusion of molybdenum makes the stainless steel recommended for more intricate applications. Some common applications of 316 stainless steel include marine or high saline environments, chemical processing and storage equipment, medical devices, and refinery equipment. This type of stainless steel can also withstand environments that contain sulfuric acid, chlorides, or bromides.

As mentioned, 316 stainless steel can easily withstand environments with a high amount of corrosive elements. Moreover, if you need to constantly place the material underwater, then opt for this stainless steel grade.

Knowing the basic properties and applications of these types of stainless steel can help you choose the one that applies to you. If you want help in fabricating them, just contact us at Metcon Steel.

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