Major Characteristics of Stainless Steel 304

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Stainless steel is an alloy made from blending alloying elements into a base metal. Providing a literal backbone for modern or high-tech industries today. Steel is mainly composed of carbon and iron, with other trace elements including nickel, manganese, and alike that can give steels of different grades unique properties from each other.

One class of steel is known as the stainless steel 304 or ss 304, which uses chromium to reduce the corrosion experienced by many iron-based materials.

 

Composition of SS 304

304 Stainless steel is a T-300 Series Stainless Steel austenitic. It contains a minimum of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, combined with a maximum of 0.08% carbon, making it a Chromium-Nickel austenitic alloy.

Grade 304 is standard stainless steel. It is one of the most versatile and widely used stainless steel available in a wide range of alternatives. It exudes excellent forming and welding characteristics. The well-balanced austenitic structure of Grade 304 enables it to be intimately deep drawn without intermediate annealing. This means that this grade of steel is dominant or mainly used in the production of stainless parts including sinks, saucepans, and hollow-ware. Grade 304 can be readily braked or roll-formed into a variety of components for applications in the industrial, architectural, and transportation fields. It also possesses excellent welding characteristics. Post-welding, annealing is not required when welding thin sections.

Characteristics of 304 Stainless Steel

  • Corrosion Resistance

Grade 304 stainless steel is one absolute pick in a wide range of atmospheric environments and many corrosive media. It is exposed to pitting and crevice corrosion in warm chloride environments, and to stress corrosion cracking above 60 °C (approximate). Grade 304 is found to be resistant to potable water up to approximately 200 mg/L chlorides at ambient temperatures, diminishing to approximately150 mg/L at 60 °C.

  • Heat Resistance

Grade 304 has excellent oxidation resistance in intermittent service to 870 °C, and in continuous service to 925 °C. Ongoing use of 304 in the 425-860 °C range is not recommended if subsequent aqueous corrosion resistance is imperative. Grade 304L is highly resistant to carbide precipitation and can possibly be heated into this temperature range.

Grade 304H has better strength at elevated temperatures, making it ideal use in pressure-containing applications at temperatures above 500 °C up-800 °C (approximate). 304H will become sensitized in the temperature range of 425-860 °C. While this is not a problem for high-temperature applications, it will result in reduced aqueous corrosion resistance.

  • Machinability

Stainless steel 304 offers good machinability. Machining can be enhanced by adopting the following measures:

  • Cutting edges must be sharpened. Dull edges cause more work hardening.
  • Cuts can be light but deep enough to prevent work hardening by riding onto the surface of the steel.
  • Chip breakers should be used to ensure that the swarf remains clear of the work
  • Low or poor thermal conductivity of austenitic alloys results in heat concentration at cutting edges. This means coolants or lubricants are indispensable and must be used in greater quantities.

Applications 

  • Food processing equipment, mainly in beer brewing, milk processing & winemaking.
  • Kitchen sinks, benches, troughs, equipment, and appliances.
  • Architectural paneling, railings & trim.
  • Chemical containers for transport.
  • Heat Exchangers.
  • Woven or welded screens preferably for mining, quarrying & water filtration.
  • Threaded fasteners.
  • Springs.

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