There are five classes of stainlesssteel:austenitic, ferritic, martensitic,duplex, and precipitation hardening.They are named according to howtheir microstructure resembles a simi-lar microstructure in steel.The prop-erties of these classes differ but areessentially the same within the sameclass.Table II
lists themetallurgical characteristics of eachclass of stainless steel.
These are the most popular of thestainless steels because of their ductil-ity, ease of working and good corrosionresistance.All were derived from the18Cr-8Ni stainless steels.Their corrosion resistance may becompared to the rungs on a ladderwith Type 304 on the first rung and theother grades occupying the successiverungs.The most common grade isType 304/304L, which makes up over 60% of all the stainless steel made in the United States today.The othergrades are developed from the 18–8 base by adding alloying elements to provide special corrosion resistantproperties or better weldability.For example, adding titanium to Type 304 makes Type 321, the workhorse of theintermediate temperature materials.Adding 2% molybdenum to Type 304 makes Type 316, which has betterchloride corrosion resistance.Adding more chromium gives Type 310 the basis for high temperature applica-tions.The major weakness of the austenitic stainless steels is their susceptibility to chloride stress corrosioncracking.Table III
lists characteristics, properties and examples of these alloys.
Non-magneticNon-hardenable by heat treatmentSingle phase from 0º (K) to melting pointCrystallographic form – face centered cubicVery easy to weldMagneticNon-hardenable by heat treatmentCrystallographic form – body centered cubicLow carbon grades easy to weldMagneticNon-hardenable by heat treatmentContains both austenite and ferriteEasy to weldMagneticHeat treatable to high hardness levelsCrystallographic form – distorted tetragonalHard to impossible to weldMagneticCrystallographic form – martensitic with microprecipitatesHeat treatable to high strength levelsWeldableAusteniticFerriticDuplexMartensiticPrecipitationHardening
Table II: Metallurgical Characteristics
CharacteristicsExamplesNon-magnetic, UsuallyVery ductileWork hardenableLower strengthNot subject to 885ºF (475ºC) embrittlementNot subject to ductile – brittle temperature rangeNot subject to hydrogen embrittlementWill chloride stress corrosion crackType 304, 304L, 304H, 304N, 304LN, 321, 347Type 316, 316L, 316H, 316N, 316LN, 316TiType 317, 317L, 317LM, 904LAL6XN, 254 SMO, 25-6Mo, 1925hMoType 308, 309, 310
Table III: Austenitic Stainless Steel