What’s the difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel?

January 5, 2021
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What’s the difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel?

 

The simple answer is 304 contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel while 316 contains 16% chromium, 10% nickel and 2% molybdenum. The molybdenum is added to help resist corrosion to chlorides (like sea water and de-icing salts).

 

How do you know you’re getting 316 stainless steel instead of 304 stainless steel?

 

You can’t tell just by looking at it. There’s no visible difference between two identical pieces of sheet metal, a polished or grained the exact same way. That’s why you need a material test report (MTR) of the actual material to validate it as being 304 or 316. We make sure we get one with every shipment we receive at Nema Enclosures so that we can assure our customers that the enclosure and its parts are constructed of the exact stainless steel material, as specified and ordered. Some small parts such as clamps and mounting feet, constructed of 316 stainless steel are specifically marked, in this case a number 6 within a circle, as shown in the photo above.

 

What is Type 304 stainless steel and what’s it used for?

 

Type 304, with its chromium-nickel content and low carbon, is the most versatile and widely used of the austenitic stainless steels. Its alloys are all modifications of the 18% chromium, 8% nickel austenitic alloy. Type 304 proves to be resistant to oxidation, corrosion, and durability. All provide ease of fabrication and cleaning, prevention of product contamination offer a variety of finishes and appearances. Type 304 stainless steels are used in corrosion resistant electrical enclosures, auto molding and trim, wheel covers, kitchen equipment, hose clamps, exhaust manifolds, stainless hardware, storage tanks, pressure vessels and piping.