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What’s The Difference:
Stainless Steel 304 vs 316

Stainless Steel 304 vs 316

Among all the stainless steel grades,  stainless steel 304 and 316 are the most popular options. Each of these alloys’ distinct properties & applications set them apart from one another. This blog aims to discuss the difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel. Emphasizing their strength, corrosion resistance, composition, and recommended uses. By the end of this blog post, you can choose between stainless steel 304 vs 316 that best matches your project.

Table of Contents

What is Stainless Steel 304?

304 stainless steel, sometimes referred to as “18/8” because it contains 8% nickel and 18% chromium. It’s an adaptable grade of stainless steel. Both industrial machinery and kitchen appliances are common uses for this material. due to its superior formability and corrosion resistance.

Stainless Steel 304 vs 316

Stainless Steel 304 Material Properties

Corrosion Resistance:

Demonstrates outstanding resistance to a variety of corrosive environments. especially oxidizing ones. Yet, it can be susceptible to pitting in the presence of chloride ions.

Mechanical Properties:

  • Tensile Strength: Approximately 505 MPa.
  • Yield Strength: Around 215 MPa.
  • Elongation:40-50% in 50mm.

Formability:

It can form well because it is an austenitic stainless steel. It can be ready to be shaped into various forms and structures.

Weldability:

It is simple to weld stainless steel 304 using the majority of common welding techniques.

Thermal Properties:

  • Melting Point: Approximately 1400°C to 1455°C.
  • Thermal Expansion: About 17.2 μm/m°C (at 20-100°C).

Magnetic Properties:

Essential non-magnetic in its annealed state. But when cold work is applied, it can become slightly magnetic.

Heat Resistance:

In intermittent use, it can withstand oxidation up to about 870°C. Up to 925°C in continuous service.

Density:

Approximately 8 g/cm^3.

Hardness:

Brinell hardness value is around 123.

Finish and Appearance:

Finished into a variety of surfaces, from matte to a mirror finish. making it flexible in terms of appearance.

Chemical Composition of Stainless Steel 304

Stainless Steel 304 is defined by its unique chemical makeup. Here’s a breakdown of its typical composition:

  • Carbon (C): ≤ 0.08%
  • Chromium (Cr): 18.0% – 20.0%
  • Nickel (Ni): 8.0% – 10.5%
  • Manganese (Mn): ≤ 2.0%
  • Silicon (Si): ≤ 1.0%
  • Phosphorus (P): ≤ 0.045%
  • Sulfur (S): ≤ 0.03%
  • Nitrogen (N): ≤ 0.10%
  • Iron (Fe): Balance

After knowing the material properties and chemical properties of stainless steel 304, let us discover its applications.

Where To Use Stainless Steel 304

Stainless Steel 304 adaptability extends from kitchen essentials to industrial machinery. Highlighting its unparalleled versatility. We’ll learn why it’s a preferred material in both domestic and commercial settings as we look at its uses.

Kitchen Equipment:

Kitchen Appliances

Due to its resistance to foodstuffs, chemicals, and staining. It’s used in sinks, cookware, cutlery, kitchen appliances, and countertops.

Architectural Elements:

Architectural Elements

Its aesthetic appeal. makes it ideal for handrails, door, window fittings, & architectural accents.

Piping Systems:

Piping Systems

Used in plumbing systems for transporting water, waste, and gases.

Heat Exchangers:

Heat Exchangers

Suitable for systems where heat transfer is essential, like boilers.

Automotive:

Automotive

Used in various car components for its balance of formability and strength.

Medical Instruments:

Medical Instruments

Its non-reactive nature. This makes it ideal for surgical instruments and other medical equipment.

Hardware:

Hardware

Common in nuts, bolts, screws, and other fasteners.

Home Appliances:

Home Appliances

Seen in washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and refrigerators. due to its durability and aesthetic appeal.

Construction:

Construction

Employed in structural supports, grating, and paneling.

Metal Crafts

Metal Crafts

Its blend of durability, workability, and corrosion resistance makes. Stainless Steel 304 is a primary choice in a vast array of applications.

Benefits of Stainless Steel 304

Stainless Steel 304, is known for its adaptability and resistance to corrosion. Stands as a favored choice across industries. from its aesthetic appeal to enduring strength. This grade combines the best of form and function. making it a go-to material in diverse applications. Let’s figure out the attributes that differentiate it.

High Strength and Durability:

Stainless steel 304 offers good tensile and yield strength. Making it robust and capable of withstanding mechanical stresses and impact.

Temperature Resistance:

Stainless steel 304 maintains its mechanical properties at both high and low temperatures. Which is essential in applications subject to extreme temperature variations.

Cost-Effective:

It is affordable compared to some other stainless steel grades. while maintaining a high standard of performance.

Non-reactive:

Stainless steel 304 is non-reactive with a wide range of substances. Making it suitable for use in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and petrochemical industries.

Accessible:

Accessible in a multitude of forms. 304 stainless steel is appropriate for many different sectors and uses.

Due to these advantages, stainless steel 304 is a popular choice in a variety of industries. Everything from building and architecture to food preparation and healthcare.

What is Stainless Steel 316?

Stainless Steel 316 is a high-quality austenitic stainless steel. Known as “marine grade” due to its upgraded resistance to corrosion from chlorides. Enriched with molybdenum and contains higher nickel content than its counterpart. Making it a top option for applications exposed to salt water, chemicals & high temperatures.

Stainless Steel 304 vs 316

Stainless Steel 316 Material Properties

With unique qualities that distinguish it in the world of materials. Stainless steel 316 is an exceptional alloy. We’ll identify the salient features that render it an ideal option for applications.  Where corrosion resistance, durability, and performance in challenging environments are paramount.

Corrosion Resistance:

An improved level of resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion. Especially in environments with chloride and other halide ions. For marine applications and other harsh environments, this makes it perfect.

Mechanical Properties:

  • Tensile Strength: Approximately 515 MPa.
  • Yield Strength: Around 205 MPa.
  • Elongation: 40-50% in 50mm.

Heat Resistance:

Retains its properties at higher temperatures better than SS 304. Allowing for high-temperature applications.

Weldability:

It is simple to weld 316 using the majority of standard methods. However, it’s crucial to avoid exposure to temperatures of 800°F to 1500°F due to carbide precipitation.

Formability:

SS 316 has good formability & can shaped into various forms and structures.

Magnetic Properties:

It’s generally non-magnetic but can become magnetic after cold working.

Durability:

Resilient and durable. Especially in more corrosive environments due to enhanced corrosion resistance.

Density:

Approximately 8 g/cm^3.

Hardness:

Brinell hardness is around 217.

Thermal Properties:

Exhibits a higher heat resistance compared to 304. With a melting point between 1370°C to 1400°C.

Chemical Composition of Stainless Steel 316

Due to the precise chemical composition of stainless steel 316. This material has an exceptional level of corrosion resistance. Here’s a breakdown of its typical composition:

  • Carbon (C): ≤ 0.08%
  • Chromium (Cr): 16.0% – 18.0%
  • Nickel (Ni): 10.0% – 14.0%
  • Molybdenum (Mo): 2.0% – 3.0%
  • Manganese (Mn): ≤ 2.0%
  • Silicon (Si): ≤ 1.0%
  • Phosphorus (P): ≤ 0.045%
  • Sulfur (S): ≤ 0.03%
  • Nitrogen (N): ≤ 0.10%
  • Iron (Fe): Balance 

The addition of molybdenum sets Stainless Steel 316 apart. Enhancing its resistance to corrosive elements, particularly in chloride-rich and marine environments. It is resistant to chemicals and acidic environments as a result of careful alloying.

Where To Use Stainless Steel 316

Marine Applications:

Marine Applications

Often the material of choice for boats, yachts, and ship fittings. Due to its exceptional resistance to saltwater corrosion.

Chemical Processing:

Chemical Processing

It’s used in chemical equipment, reactors, and storage tanks. Where resistance to corrosive chemicals is essential.

Medical and Pharmaceutical Equipment:

Medical and Pharmaceutical Equipment

Stainless Steel 316’s hygienic properties. Making it suitable for surgical instruments, medical devices, and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Aerospace:

Aerospace

It’s employed in plane components and jet engines. Where high-temperature resistance and strength are crucial.

Food and Beverage Industry:

Food and Beverage Industry

Used for equipment, food processing machinery, and brewery tanks. Thanks to its corrosion resistance and hygiene.

Coastal and Offshore Structures:

Coastal and Offshore Structures

Stainless Steel 316’s durability in harsh marine environments. Makes it suitable for offshore oil platforms, coastal architectural elements, and seawater desalination.

Automotive:

Automotive

Used in some automotive parts and exhaust systems. Due to its resistance to high temperatures and corrosive emission

Construction:

Construction

Used in structural elements. Especially in buildings or bridges located in corrosive environments.

Benefits of Stainless Steel 316

Enhanced Chemical Resistance:

Due to its molybdenum content. A greater variety of chemicals and solvents can be withstood by stainless steel 316. It is perfect for the chemical processing and medicine sectors.

High-Temperature Performance:

Stainless steel 316 maintains its strength & integrity at elevated temperatures. Making it appropriate for uses where heat exposure is a concern. as in equipment that operates at high temperatures and exhaust systems.

Excellent Weldability:

It can be easy to weld and fabricate. Retaining its corrosion resistance even after welding. Which is crucial in various manufacturing and construction processes.

Biocompatibility:

Stainless steel 316 is biocompatible and non-reactive. Making it appropriate for surgical instruments, dental and medical implants, and healthcare applications.

Longevity:

Its remarkable corrosion resistance and durability guarantee a long service life.

Wide Range of Functions:

Used in sectors that need strong corrosion resistance.  Including marine, chemical processing, food and beverage, and pharmaceuticals.

Aesthetic Appeal:

Like 304, stainless steel 316 also offers a polished modern appearance. Making it suitable for architectural and decorative applications.

These advantages make stainless steel 316 a reliable and adaptable material. Sought after in industries where performance, longevity, and corrosion resistance are important. Having learned about the advantages of stainless steel. This brings us to our next important topic: its performance! Let’s now discuss the difference between SS 304 and 316.

Heat Resistance Comparison:
Stainless Steel 304 Vs 316

Stainless steel 316 or 304 exhibits different heat resistance properties. Although both grades can to some extent withstand high temperatures, there are some differences between 316 & 304 stainless steel. Such as:

Stainless Steel 304:

  • Up to about 870°C (1600°F) in intermittent service, it often keeps its strength and integrity.
  • In continuous service, it can resist oxidation up to about 925°C (1700°F).

316 Stainless Steel:

  • Compared to 304 v 316 stainless, 316 is more heat resistant. Thereby making it appropriate for a variety of uses.
  • It can endure temperatures up to about 870°C (1600°F) in intermittent service.
  • In continuous service, it provides better resistance to oxidation. It can endure temperatures of up to 925 °C (or 1700 °F).

Both ss 316 vs ss 304  are capable of withstanding elevated temperatures. But Stainless Steel 316 outperforms 304 when it comes to heat resistance. Particularly in continuous high-temperature service. This makes it the best option for situations where excessive heat is a concern.

Shifting our focus from the heat resistance comparison between 304 versus 316 stainless. We’ll now delve into a practical consideration: the price difference between 304 ss vs 316 ss.

Price Difference: Stainless Steel 304 Vs 316

What is the difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel when it comes to price?

304 and 316 stainless, while similar in many aspects, also differ in pricing. The cost variation is attributed to the variations in their alloy compositions. Particularly the presence of molybdenum in Stainless Steel 316. Here’s a brief overview of the price difference between ss 304 and ss 316:

Stainless Steel 304:

Generally, more affordable compared to Stainless Steel 316. Due to its simpler alloy composition, which lacks molybdenum. For a variety of applications, 304 is the recommended option due to its affordability.

  • The price of stainless steel 304 can vary, but as a rough estimate. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1 to $3 per pound (lb) for standard sheets or coils.
  • For specialized or custom-cut pieces, the price may be higher.
  • Prices may also differ based on the finish (e.g., brushed, polished, matte) and the form (sheets, bars, tubes).

316 Stainless Steel:

Tends to be a little more costly than 304. due to the molybdenum addition, which improves its corrosion resistance. more so in hostile environments. This premium cost is justifiable when the application demands superior corrosion resistance.

  • Stainless steel 316 has more alloying elements. Higher resistance to corrosion than stainless steel 304. It is often a bit more expensive.
  • You can expect to pay between $2 to $4 per pound (lb) for stainless steel 316.
  • The cost can change based on the particular product form and finish.

The choice between 304 or 316 ss depends on your project’s requirements. The higher price is often seen as an appropriate investment.  For applications where 316’s superior corrosion resistance is essential. But, for many general-purpose applications, ss 304 may be the best choice.

Let’s move over and look at the difference between 316 stainless steel and 304 focusing on corrosion resistance.

Corrosion Resistance: Stainless Steel 304 Vs 316

Corrosion resistance is a defining characteristic of stainless steel. Both grades ss 304 and ss 316 excel in this aspect. As a result of variations in the alloy composition, they do show varying levels of resistance. The corrosion resistance of stainless steel 304 vs 316 differs as follows:

Stainless Steel 304:

  • Known for its excellent general corrosion resistance. Thus, it can be applied to multiple purposes.
  • Resists corrosion in typical atmospheric conditions, freshwater, and many mild chemical environments.

Stainless Steel 316:

  • Offers exceptional protection against corrosion. Especially in environments that are rich in chlorides and marine. 
  • Resistant to corrosion in crevices and pitting. It is thus the best choice for applications that are exposed to saltwater or harsh chemicals.

In summary, both stainless steel 316 and 304 provide commendable corrosion resistance. Yet, because of its molybdenum content. Stainless Steel 316 provides better defense against harsh environments. It includes saltwater and corrosive chemicals. Making it the preferred option for applications where corrosion is a critical concern.

Comparison Video on Aisi 304 Vs 316

You can watch the video below to get a better understanding of inox 304 vs 316

Professional Insights on SS 304 Vs 316

The choice difference between 304 ss and 316 ss depends on the application’s demands. budget considerations, and the environment in which material to use. Experts weigh the benefits of both grades 304 vs 316 before making a decision. 

At Foison Metal, free design consultations are available. Here, we assist you in choosing the best grade of stainless steel material for your project. We promise that the cash spent will be well worth the outcomes.

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