When selecting stainless steel sheets one must make sure in which environment the sheets need to be used these SS Sheets that endure corrosive environments are typically used. Possessing outstanding mechanical properties, the high amounts of nickel and chromium in austenitic stainless steels also provide excellent resistance to corrosion. Additionally, many austenitic stainless steels are formable and weldable. Stainless Steel 304 and 316 are two of the most commonly used grades of austenitic. To help you choose the right grade for your project, this blog will compare the difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel sheets.
Stainless Steel Grade 304 Sheets
Stainless Steel 304 Sheet is generally regarded as the most common austenitic stainless steel Sheet. It contains high nickel content that is typically between 8 and 10.5 percent by weight and a high amount of chromium at approximately 18 to 20 percent by weight. Other major alloying elements include manganese, silicon, and carbon. The remainder of the chemical composition is mainly iron. SS 304 Sheets have excellent toughness, even down to cryogenic temperatures which are defined as very low temperatures.
The high amounts of chromium and nickel give 304 stainless steel sheets excellent resistance to corrosion. SS 304 Sheets have good oxidation resistance in intermittent service to 870 degrees C, and in continuous service to 925 degrees C. Common applications of 304 stainless steel sheets include:
- Appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers
- Commercial food processing equipment
- Heat exchangers
- Chemical containers, including for transport
- Food processing equipment, particularly in beer brewing, milk processing & winemaking
- Architectural paneling, railings & trim
Stainless Steel Grade 316 Sheets
Grade 316 stainless steel is Similar to 304 in terms of high amounts of chromium and nickel. 316 also contains carbon, silicon, and manganese, with the primary composition being iron. A major difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel is the chemical composition, with SS 316 containing a significant amount of molybdenum; typically 2 to 3 percent by weight vs the only trace amounts found in 304. The higher molybdenum content results in Stainless Steel 316 Sheet possessing increased corrosion resistance.
Stainless Steel 316 Sheet is often considered one of the most suitable choices when selecting an austenitic stainless steel sheet for marine applications. Other common applications of 316 stainless steel sheet include:
- Chemical processing and storage equipment.
- Refinery equipment
- Medical devices
- Marine environments, especially those with chlorides present
- Food preparation equipment particularly in chloride environments.
- Laboratory benches & equipment.
- Coastal architectural paneling, railings & trim.
Which Grade should you use: Grade 304 or Grade 316?
- If the application requires excellent formability the higher molybdenum content in SS Grade 316 Sheets can have adverse effects on formability and hence SS 304 Sheets can be used
- Grade 304 sheets are typically more affordable than Grade 316 sheets if the application has cost concerns SS 304 Sheets should be used.
- The environment includes a high amount of corrosive elements, or the material will be placed underwater or be exposed to water consistently, or in applications where greater strength and hardness are required Stainless Steel 316 Sheets should be used.