Choosing the right stainless steel grade

Choosing the right stainless steel grade

When planning your metal fabrication project, it’s essential to factor in corrosion to avoid unnecessarily high costs in the future. Grades 304 and 316 are the two most common stainless steel grades that meet essential anti-corrosion criteria.

It’s worth comparing these austenitic steels to understand the differences and similarities, and to see which circumstances each performs best.


Comparing 304 to 316 stainless steel


The secret behind stainless steel’s coveted anti-corrosive properties is chromium. Both 304 and 316 contain chromium, but it is other materials added to their compositions that change the structure of the product.


Grade 304


Grade 304 stainless steel is made up of 18% chromium and 8% nickel by weight. It also contains small amounts of silicon and manganese.

The composition of this alloy creates a strong and anti-corrosive material. It is most commonly used in the following applications:

  • Pipes
  • Food processing equipment
  • Heat exchangers
  • Household appliances


Grade 316


Grade 316 on the other hand, contains 16% chromium and 10% nickel. In addition, 2% of molybdenum, as well as small amounts of silicon, carbon, and manganese, are added.

The addition of molybdenum to steel alloys lends it greater strength, hardness, and resistance to corrosion. This stainless steel composition is perfect for:

  • Medical devices
  • Chemical processing equipment
  • Marine applications

Grade 316 stainless steel is considerably denser than 304, making it more challenging when it comes to formability. It’s generally more expensive than 304. These are factors that need to be considered in addition to the fact that it is the stronger of the two grades.


Making the grade


If strength and durability are what you’re looking for then 316 is the clear winner. When you need steel that’s easier to form, 304 is the grade for you. If you’d like to chat about these and other steel options, Pure stainless steel Manufacturers can assist you in making the best choices for your next project. Get in touch for the best service and advice.

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