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Type 304 Stainless Steel vs.

Type 316

Type 304 stainless steel is one of the most commonly used grades. Both 304 and 316 stainless steels
are used in the food and beverage industry. Silos, cheese vats, fruit tanks and wine tanks are often made out of
either 304 or 316 stainless steel. Type 316 stainless steel is often used in marine applications like for boat
fittings. This type of stainless steel was also employed to clad the exterior of the Petronas Towers in Malaysia
and the Jin Mao Tower in China.


Both types 304 and 316 are austenitic stainless steels. This property contributes to their ductility and
ability to be easily welded and formed. This also means that these steels are not magnetic. The chromium in
stainless steels also adds a certain level of corrosion resistance to the metal. Type 304 stainless steel contains 18
percent chromium, while 316-grade stainless steel contains 17 percent chromium.


Molybdenum can also be added to steel to increase corrosion and pitting resistance. The presence of
molybdenum is perhaps the biggest difference between 304 and 316 stainless steels. Type 304 stainless steel
contains no traces of molybdenum, while 316 stainless steel contains 2.1 percent molybdenum.

Difference Between 304 & 316L Stainless


The 300 series contains different types of stainless steel; however, all types of stainless steel in the
series contain about the same amount of nickel, iron and chromium. 316L stainless steel is simply a low-carbon
type of 316 stainless steel that contains molybdenum.

Corrosion Resistance

316L stainless steel contains molybdenum, which gives it increased corrosion resistance, more so than
the corrosion resistance provided by 304 stainless steel. In chlorine environments, 316L stainless steel offers a
higher resistance to crevice corrosion and pitting than 304 stainless steel.


316L stainless steel is often employed in heavy gauge welding applications because the risk of pitting,
cracking and corrosion is reduced. 304 stainless steel is often used in the creation of cookware and in the
construction of dairy equipment, such as milking machines.

Composition of 316L Stainless Steel

Chromium, Nickel and Molybdenum

Type 316L stainless steel contains chromium, nickel and molybdenum. The chromium and nickel
content contribute to the high corrosion-resistance factor of the Type 316L stainless steel, while the
molybdenum content is directly related to how hard the finished product is. Because of the blend of chromium,
nickel and molybdenum, Type 316L stainless steel is tough and durable for marine or other applications where
highly corrosive environments are present.

Low Carbon Version

316L stainless steel has a lower carbon content than many other types of steel and metal alloys. The
low carbon content of Type 316L stainless steel is useful because it prevents carbon precipitation during
welding processes that can cause problems with corrosion later due to carbon build up in finished welds. Type
316L is often used in very highly corrosive environments for this reason.


Type 316L stainless steel is so tough by its general construction and nature that it cannot be hardened
by heat treating or annealing. This is also a good property to have because it means the steel will not harden
accidentally or become brittle due to repeated heating and cooling cycles throughout the life of the product
made with this steel.


There are many uses of Type 316L stainless steel, including uses as heat exchanger material in furnaces
and in other heating applications, uses as exhaust manifold material and in other high temperature
applications, and uses in such diverse areas as jet engines, pharmaceutical parts and equipment, and farming
tanks for holding corrosive chemicals that might be used as fertilizers or other products.

316L Stainless Steel

Grade 316 is the standard molybdenum-bearing grade, second in importance to 304 amongst theaustenitic
stainless steels. The molybdenum gives 316 better overall corrosion resistant properties than Grade 304,
particularly higher resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion in chloride environments.
Grade 316L, the low carbon version of 316, is immune from sensitisation (grain boundary carbide
precipitation). Thus it is extensively used in heavy gauge welded components (over about 6mm). There is
commonly no appreciable price difference between 316 and 316L stainless steel.
The austenitic structure also gives these grades excellent toughness, even down to cryogenic temperatures.
Compared to chromium-nickel austenitic stainless steels, 316L stainless steel offers higher creep, stress to
rupture and tensile strength at elevated temperatures.
EnduraMet(R) 316LN stainless is a nitrogen-strengthened version of Type 316L stainless. By means of solid
solution strengthening, the nitrogen provides significantly higher yield and tensile strength as annealed than
Type 316L without adversely affecting ductility, corrosion resistance or non-magnetic properties. In the hot
rolled unannealed condition, yield strength of 75 ksi (518 MPa) or higher can be achieved for bar diameters up
to 1.375in (34.925mm).
The foregoing information was gathered from two different web locations arrived at by searching for "stainless
steel rebar" and "316LN stainless steel."
It appears that Type 316 is a standard stainless steel, 316L is a low carbon stainless steel, and 316LN is a low
carbon nitrogen strengthened stainless steel.

Properties of Stainless Steel 316L

Corrosion Resistance

This is potentially the most important property and the reason for use of stainless steel grade 316L.
The high corrosion resistance of 316L allows for its use in chloride environments, architecture and marine
applications. In cold sea water, 316L is thought of as a "standard marine grade stainless steel" according to
Azom, but the property does not hold as true for warm sea water. Stainless steel 316L works well against
corrosion in various atmospheric environments, especially in hard and acidic water.

Heat Resistance

One of stainless steel 316L's strongest properties is its heat resistance. The metal's oxidation resistance
holds up through 870 degrees C and it remains serviceable up to 925 degree C. Unlike grade 316, grade 316L
can be used throughout the temperature range of 425 to 860 degrees Celsius without worry about aqueous
corrosion resistance.

Weldability and Machining

Grade 316L cannot typically be welded using oxyacetylene methods of welding. Other methods, like
standard fusion and resistance methods, work exceptionally well whether or not filler metals are utilized.
Stainless steel 316L can harden if it is machined too quickly, so constant feed rates and low speeds are often
used with this grade of steel.

Other Properties

Stainless steel grade 316L is used more than many other steel grades because its properties are an
improvement of others. Grade 316L has a higher creep, tensile strength and stress to rupture at elevated
temperatures than austenitic stainless steels made with chromium-nickel. The strength of 316L can be
increased by cold working during process like drawing, stamping and shearing.




One of the most widely used and oldest of the stainless

steels. This was originally called 18-8 which stood for its
chromium and nickel content. It possesses an excellent
combination of strength, corrosion resistance and




This austenitic stainless steel has an increased

molybdenum content to increase its resistance to
corrosion when compared to other 300 series alloys. It will
resist scaling at temperatures up to 1600 F. Many of our
customers use this material for heat treating applications
where hot salt solution is used. 316 is also used in the
marine industry because of its resistance to corrosion.





Much like 316 the "L" means "low carbon", the .035%
carbon is a MAXIMUM value, in % by weight, and
represents what is not removed during steel making. The
advantage of the lower carbon is that it forms less
chromium carbide during welding. Chromium is what
makes stainless steel stainless, if it is tied up as chromium
carbide it cannot prevent corrosion. In the old days it was
difficult to get down to .035% so most 316 (and 304) had
~.06% and was subject to "sensitization" during welding.



10% 0.035%