While there are no visible differences between 304 and 316 stainless steel, there are distinctive chemical differences – the most crucial difference being their chemical compositions. 304 stainless steel contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel. In contrast, 316 stainless steel contains 16% chromium, 10% nickel, and 2% molybdenum. The chemical distinction between these two grades of stainless steel is of great importance when considering their intended uses.
304 Stainless Steel Properties & Applications
The majority of stainless steel utilized globally is grade 304. There are multiple reasons for its popularity, including:
- 304 stainless steel is durable and is corrosion and oxidation resistant, meaning it can endure average exposures.
- Its melting point ranges from 2,550° F to 2,650° F, allowing it to withstand very high temperatures.
- 304 is also valued for its high tensile strength of about 621 MPa (90 ksi).
304 stainless steel’s chemical makeup of 18% chromium and 8% nickel makes it a good choice for many common applications, which include:
- Kitchen equipment & appliances
- Water piping
- Indoor electrical enclosures
- Auto moldings & trim
- Wheel covers
- Storage tanks
316 Stainless Steel Properties & Applications
304 and 316 stainless steel share many properties. However, it is the added properties that set 316 stainless steel apart.
- The addition of molybdenum to 316’s chemical makeup improves its resistance to harmful acids, alkalis, and chloride pitting. This increases its longevity and provides crucial protection for essential components.
- Its high percentage of chromium and nickel, indicative of austenitic stainless steel alloys, provides increased strength and corrosion resistance in some of the most punishing environments.
316 stainless steel’s material composition of 16% chromium, 10% nickel, and 2% molybdenum allows it to be used in applications that require superior corrosion resistance and stringent hygiene and cleanliness requirements. Some of the most common applications are:
- Chemical equipment
- Pharmaceutical equipment
- Outdoor electrical enclosures
- Marine parts
- Stainless steel baskets
- Medical surgical equipment
- Stainless steel floats
Benefits of Using 316 Stainless Steel
When salt and other chlorides are an exposure and lasting durability is desired, the benefits of using 316 stainless steel over 304 are clear.
Not only tough, but also versatile, 316 stainless steel is an excellent choice for use in applications such as custom wire baskets. These baskets are often subject to harsh, high-impact conditions, and 316 stainless steel continues to deliver durability in these environments year after year.
316 stainless steel’s added chemical component, molybdenum, makes it much more corrosion resistant than 304 or other stainless steel alloys. This allows 316 stainless steel to be used in highly acidic environments that other steels can’t tolerate without incurring damage. 316’s corrosion-resistant properties also make it ideal in pharmaceutical and medical applications due to its ability to withstand the strong disinfectants and high temperatures needed to sterilize equipment.
Sea and Marine Applications
Exposure to salt and chlorides can wreak havoc on 304 and other stainless steel alloys. Salt can cause 304 stainless steel to rust by eroding its protective oxide layer, and 304 steel is also more easily pitted from the effects of salt and chlorides. However, 316 stainless steel has all of the desirability properties of 304 stainless steel, but with the added benefit of molybdenum, which allows it to withstand exposure to salt and chlorides without breaking down.
Bergsen Metals Stainless Steel Products
While 316 stainless steel has all of the benefits of 304 stainless steel and many additional benefits as well, it all comes down to the qualities needed for a particular application.
Regardless of your stainless steel needs, Bergsen Metals offers a complete inventory of stainless steel products in a wide variety of grades and sizes. View our stainless steel products, request a quote, or contact us for more information on how we can move your business forward with our quality stainless steel products and exceptional customer service.Contact Us