Stainless steel 304 and stainless steel 316 look the same, making it difficult to distinguish between them. However, there are still points of difference between 316 vs. 304 stainless steels.
316 vs. 304 stainless. Which is more popular and versatile?
The high nickel and chromium content level in 316 and 304 stainless steel offers them great resistance to abrasion, corrosion, and heat. Both grades of stainless steel are known for their resistance to heat and corrosion and are popular for their overall cleanliness and appearance. These two stainless steel grades have wide-ranging applications in several industries. 304 grade of stainless steel is used in several industries as it is easy to use and durable; therefore, it is used for making stainless steel bars, stainless steel sheets, stainless steel tubes, and stainless steel plates. On the other hand, 316 stainless steel grade is resistant to marine environments and chemicals, which makes this great a popular choice for manufacturers.
Which is better, 304 stainless steel or 316 stainless steels?
If you compare Stainless 304 vs. 316, you will notice that both grades have pros and cons, and it is important to know the applications used to determine their proper use. For example, stainless steel grade 316 is more resistant to salt and other corrosives than 304 stainless steel. Therefore, if you are manufacturing a good product that requires a marine environment or exposure to chemicals, it will be better for you to use SS316 instead of SS304. Similarly, if you’re manufacturing a product that does not require powerful corrosion resistance, then the most economical and practical choice would be to use 304 stainless steels.
The price difference between 316 vs. 304 stainless
Regarding the price difference, SS 316 is more expensive compared to SS304. This is because 316 stainless steel contains additional nickel and molybdenum content, making it more expensive. As a result, the average price of stainless steel 316 is 40% higher than 304 stainless steel.
Heat resistance: 304 vs. 316 stainless steel
Heat resistance is an important distinguishing factor between 316 stainless steel and 304 stainless steel. The melting range of 304 stainless steel is between 50 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is higher than stainless steel 316. The melting range of 304 is much higher than 316, so they are good resistance to oxidation in continuous service at 1697 degrees Fahrenheit or 925 degrees Celsius and intermittent service at 1500 degrees Fahrenheit or 870 degrees Celsius. Therefore, 316 stainless steel is best for application in temperatures more than 843 degrees Celsius and below 454 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, 304 stainless steel handles applications and is resistant to high temperatures; however, using this stainless steel at 425 to 860 degrees Celsius will lead to corrosion.
Applications of 304 stainless steel
SS 304 is widely used in the healthcare and medical industry since it can interact with cleaning chemicals without causing corrosion. The food industry also uses 304 stainless steel as this stainless steel grade needs all the sanitary regulations of the Food and Drug administration for preparing food items in the industry. Other common applications are kitchen equipment like silverware and cookware, the medical industry for preparing surgical tools and trace, and the architectural industry for making bathroom stalls, elevators, and siding.
Application of stainless steel 316
316 stainless steel comes with additional molybdenum content, making it more corrosion-resistant. Because of its superior corrosion resistance, power is widely used in the marine environment and hospitals as it comes with cleanliness and durability features. Other common applications are marine parts like wire rope, boat rails, boat ladders, chemical processing equipment, medical equipment, and water handling like water heaters, boilers, etc.