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304 vs 316 Stainless Steel

304 vs 316 Stainless Steel

When acquiring the right fastener for the job it is important to know which material you need to insure maximum effectiveness. When comparing 304 Stainless Steel to 316 Stainless Steel we better understand the unique characteristics that sets them apart. Designed to be strong, easily weldable, corrosion and heat resistance, both stainless steel grades are effective for a large array of applications. Selecting the best material grade for your application, however, is something easier said than done. 304SS and 316SS are common choices for many industrial and commercial applications. But which is best for your project? And what’s the difference between the two?

BW Industrial Sales is here to help. For decades, we have evolved with the changing market to anticipate the growing needs of our customers. We’re not just your fastener supplier but your complete vendor partner. We have the industry knowledge and resources to enable you to select the best material for your planned use.

Characteristics of 304 Stainless Steel

The main composition of 304 includes; between 18-20% Chromium and 8-10.5% Nickel. With high heat-resistance and easy welding capabilities, plus good corrosion resistance to an array of chemicals and substances, 304 stainless steel is excellent for almost any form. Used primarily in industrial applications, architectural exterior accents, medical use, kitchen equipment and much more, 304 is the most commonly used stainless steel in the world.

304 Stainless Steel

  • Low Cost Corrosion resistance
  • Less electrical & thermal conductivity than carbon steel
  • Oxidation resistant
  • Large fabrication range
  • Higher melting point than 316ss
  • Cost effective
  • UL/NEMA 4x rated & certified

304 SS is less magnetic and less thermally & electrically conductive than steel. It has a high corrosion resistance compared to regular steel and is extremely forable, making it great for various applications. Known outside the United States as A2 Stainless Steel, 304 has many different names including; 18-8 Stainless Steel (Commercial cookware industry), UNS S30400 (Unified Numbering System), SUS304 (japan), and Norm1.4301 (Europe). 

Characteristics of 316 Stainless Steel

316 Stainless Steel Alloy is a very popular steel. The main composition of 316 includes; between 16-18% Chromium, 10-14% Nickel, and 2-3% Molybdenum. With high heat-resistance (melting point between 2,500ºF & 2,550ºF and Max use temp around 1,470ºF) and easy welding capabilities, plus good corrosion resistance to an array of chemicals and substances, 316 stainless steel is excellent for almost any form. Unlike 304, 316 Stainless Steel contains Molybdenum, a chemical compound that increases strength at elevated temperatures (with tensile strength of 579 MPs (84ksi)) and most importantly the corrosion and chloride pitting resistance of steel. This extra compound along with a slight increase in nickel content makes it a slightly better all-around yet more expensive grade when compared to 304 ss for applications such as marine, medical, water treatments, textiles, chemical processing, and more.

316 Stainless Steel

  • More expensive
  • Very high corrosion resistance
  • Lasts longer in the field
  • Chemical & chloride resistant
  • Marine & water applications
  • High heat & strength durability
  • UL/NEMA 4x rated & certified

Typically used for water and chemical intensive applications like pumps, valves, textiles, chemical equipment, marine applications and more. 316 stainless steel has a better corrosion and pitting resistance than the 304. Typically non-magnetic, unless used in coldwork or welding, 316 also offers a metal characteristic that is key in multiple applications including medical and marine parts.

What's The Main Difference Between 304 And 316 Stainless Steel?

There isn't much of a difference other than slight variations of chemical makeup. The use of molybdenum and increased nickel content give 316 stainless steel the upper hand in chemical, acid, and chloride resistance. Making 316 the perfect fit for chemical processing and marine application. However, those compounds also increase the price of 316 stainless compared to Grade 304. But although the 316 stainless is resistant to chemicals, the 304 stainless steel actually has a higher melting point to that of 316 (roughly 50-100ºF difference). Making it a better fit for higher heat applications. 

While both come with individual benefits, it is believed that 316 stainless steel is the superior alloy. Better accomplishing the necessary requirements of almost any application. Click link to download PDF "304 stainless steel vs 316 stainless steel".

Never Run Out of Fasteners Again

When you choose BW Industrial Sales as your vendor partner, we use our fully customized VMI solutions to ensure that you will never run out of stock again. Whether you need 304ss or 316ss screwsnutsboltsrivets, or more, our innovative system ensures that you have what you need precisely when you need it. We give you the exact amount of control you require, removing the stress from your inventory management.

Get Started with BW Industrial Sales Today!

Ready to learn more? Contact us or request a quote today. We’ll find you the best sheet metal screw for your industrial or commercial application.
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