What’s the Difference Between 304 and 316 Stainless Steel

What's the Difference Between 304 and 316 Stainless Steel

304 and 316 stainless steel are among the most popular stainless steel used in different industries. While both may seem similar at first, they hold significant differences that need to be brought under the limelight. So how is 304 stainless steel different from 316 stainless steel? Let’s find out how the two differ.

304-Grade Stainless Steel304-Grade Stainless Steel

304-grade stainless steel had a nickel-chromium content with lower carbon levels, being the most widely used and versatile option for austenitic stainless steel. This stainless steel is corrosion and oxidation-resistant, also known for its durability. This steel’s alloys offer easy cleaning and fabrication and are also available in a great variety of appearances and finishes. The most common use of 304-grade stainless steel is in auto trim and molding, electrical enclosures that are corrosion resistant, wheel covers, hose clamps, kitchen equipment, stainless hardware, exhaust manifolds, pressure vessels, storage tanks, and piping.

316-Grade Stainless Steel316-Grade Stainless Steel

The 316-type stainless steel is heat-resistant, chromium-nickel, austenitic steel with excellent corrosion resistance compared to other steels on exposure to corrodents like brine solutions, seawater, etc. This 316-grade stainless alloy consists of molybdenum, offering more excellent chemical resistance than 304-grade steel. This stainless steel is easy to clean, weld, fabricate, finish, and is also more durable.

Moreover, it offers greater resistance to chlorides, sulfuric acid, bromides, fatty acids, iodides at a high temperature. Stainless steel that contains molybdenum is required to make some pharmaceuticals to avoid too much metal contamination. So, while the 316-grade stainless steel seems a little expensive, it will save you a lot in the long run, especially if you’re using it outdoors. This stainless steel tends to be great for marine applications. Some common uses of this steel include medical devices, refinery equipment, chemical processing, equipment storage, and marine environments.

304 and 316 Stainless Steel; The Major Difference304 and 316 Stainless Steel; The Major Difference

The primary difference is that the 304-grade stainless steel combines 18% chromium and 8% nickel, but other alloys are also present in the same grade. The 316-grade stainless steel, on the other hand, contains less chromium, usually around 16%, with a greater level of nickel. Molybdenum is also added to this mix. So, while both the stainless steel seem similar, the main difference is in their composition. Because of the difference in composition and properties, the uses of both steel also vary.


So, both 304-grade and 316-grade stainless steel have their own properties that make them suitable for specific purposes. Based on what you’re going to use the steel for, you can decide which one will suit you best. 304-grade steel tends to be a more affordable option and is best if you need excellent formability. On the other hand, 316-grade stainless steel can be a better option if the material has to be used underwater or if the environment has high corrosive elements. It can also be a better option when you need greater hardness and strength.

Hope that this blog will helpful for you!

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