Differences Between Stainless Steel 304 and 316

Metal Products | December 17, 2020

Getting to know the differences between stainless steel 304 and 316 will help ensure that you are selecting the right type of metal for your specific project requirements. At LWS Manufacturing & Welding, we understand how important it is to choose the right materials for the job. That is why we carry a wide selection of metal products, including stainless steel 304 and stainless steel 316, making it easy to find the best materials for your project.

What is Stainless Steel 304?

Thanks to its chromium-nickel content—usually 8% nickel and 18% chromium—and low carbon, stainless steel 304 is extremely versatile and the most widely used of the austenitic stainless steels. This particular type of stainless-steel alloy is resistant to corrosion and oxidation, making it a durable material that can be easily fabricated and cleaned. Stainless steel 304 alloys are suitable for use in a wide range of different applications:

  • Corrosion resistant electrical enclosures
  • Auto molding and trim
  • Wheel covers
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Hose clamps
  • Hardware
  • Storage tanks
  • Piping
  • Pressure vessels
  • Exhaust manifolds

What is Stainless Steel 316?

Stainless steel 316 is an austenitic chromium-nickel alloy—usually containing 16% chromium, 10% nickel, and 2-3% molybdenum—that is heat resistant and provides superior corrosion resistance when exposed to many types of chemical corrodents like saltwater. This type of stainless-steel alloy is extremely durable, as well as easy to clean, fabricate, weld, and finish. While stainless steel 316 tends to cost more money upfront, it is often required in the manufacturing of certain pharmaceuticals, as it can help prevent excessive metal contamination. Stainless steel 316 tends to be the best option for a range of different uses, such as:

  • Medical equipment and implants
  • Foodservice, processing, and preparation equipment
  • Equipment used in coastal environments
  • Equipment used in areas with high salt levels
  • Brewing facilities
  • Equipment used in environments with increased exposure to acids and alkalis

Stainless Steel 304 vs Stainless Steel 316

Both steel grades tend to be comparable in terms of appearance, chemical makeup, and characteristics and they are both extremely durable and resistant to corrosion and rust. The main difference between stainless steel 304 and stainless steel 316 is that stainless steel 316 contains molybdenum which is used to help strengthen and harden the steel alloy, making it a more suitable choice for applications where exposure to salt or powerful corrosives is an issue.

If you would like to learn more about the differences between stainless steel 304 and 316, or if you are interested in purchasing one of our metal products, please contact LWS Manufacturing & Welding at 604-854-1277 or by filling out a contact form on our website.