From food production to cutlery and kitchenware to power generation, there are many different stainless steel uses and many stainless steel products.
But what is stainless steel? Simply put, it’s a steel alloy (a metal made by two more more metallic elements) that contains chromium, making it resistant to tarnishing and rust.
Two of the most common types of stainless steel are 304 and 316. Each of these stainless steel alloy grades has their own advantages and disadvantages and while they both useful, it’s important to know the difference between the two of them.
What is Stainless Steel 304?
Stainless Steel 304 is the number one most common grade of stainless steel. It is widely known for its excellent resistance to corrosion and value.
As with all stainless steel, it contains chromium, usually between 18 and 24 percent and can also contain nickel or carbon in some cases. The use of nickel and nickel-containing materials is increasing and use of nickel-containing stainless steel is growing at about six percent.
Since 304 can withstand corrosion so well, it is most often used in food production and for kitchen applications such as sinks. It can also be used in buildings, furnishings and decor.
One disadvantage of Stainless Steel 304 is that is at risk of corrosion from saline (salt) environments like the ocean and it is also susceptible to corrosion from chloride solutions
What is Stainless Steel 316?
Stainless Steel 316 is the second most common form of stainless steel and is nearly identical to 304 both mechanically and physically. The biggest difference between the two grades is that 316 contains molybdenum. The adding of molybdenum helps to increase resistance to corrosion form elements like chloride. Different grades
Since 316 is more resistant to some forms of corrosion and corrosive agents, it is often used in the processing of chemicals, manufacture of medical instruments and can also be used in coastal environments.
The nickel used in both 304 and 316 helps it maintain an austentic composition at low temperatures and these help maintain stainless steel’s strength, resistance to corrosion and versatility.
Which one do I choose?
Stainless Steel 316 is often more costly than 304, but with extra resistance to corrosion it lasts longer and might be a better choice in the long run. For use in chemical processing and in food processing places such as kitchens, 316 might be the better choice since it can withstand chemicals and doesn’t react to certain acids and alkalis associated with food.
To help you choose the right stainless steel to fit your needs, Metal Supermarkets takes you through several steps to consider when choosing a steel grade.