The main difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel is that 316 contains 2%-3% molybdenum and 304

has no molybdenum. The "moly" is added to improve the corrosion resistance to chlorides (like sea water). So, while 316 stainless steel is generally considered more corrosion resistant than 304, depending on the nature of the corrosive media the corrosion rates of 304 and 316 could be similar. The simple answer is 304 contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel while 316 contains 16% chromium, 10% nickel and 2% molybdenum. The molybdenum is added to help resist corrosion to chlorides (like sea water and de-icing salts).
Type 304, with its chromium-nickel content and low carbon, is the most versatile and widely used of the austenitic stainless steels. Its alloys are all modifications of the 18% chromium, 8% nickel austenitic alloy. Type 304 proves to be resistant to oxidation, corrosion, and durability. All provide ease of fabrication and cleaning, prevention of product contamination offer a variety of finishes and appearances. Type 304 stainless steels are used in corrosion resistant electrical enclosures, auto molding and trim, wheel covers, kitchen equipment, hose clamps, exhaust manifolds, stainless hardware, storage tanks, pressure vessels and piping.

Type 316 stainless steel is an austenitic chromium-nickel stainless and heat-resisting steel with superior corrosion resistance as compared to other chromium-nickel steels when exposed to many types of chemical corrodents such as sea water, brine solutions, and the like. Since Type 316 stainless steel alloy contains molybdenum bearing it has a greater resistance to chemical attack than 304. Type 316 is durable, easy-to-fabricate, clean, weld and finish. It is considerably more resistant to solutions of sulfuric acid, chlorides, bromides, iodides and fatty acids at high temperature. Stainless steels containing molybdenum are required in the manufacture of certain pharmaceuticals in order to avoid excessive metallic contamination. The bottom line is that Type 316 stainless steel costs a little more upfront but you could save a whole lot on the back end – especially if your enclosure is going to be

used outdoors. Something worth keeping in mind when you’re designing your next enclosure.

Comparison of 304 or 316 and 304L or 316L type compositions and effect on corrosion resistance
Introduction - composition ranges
As American AISI basic grades, the only practical difference between 304 or 316 and 304L or 316L is carbon content. The carbon ranges are 0.08% maximum for 304 and 316 and 0.030% maximum for the 304L and 316L types. All other element ranges are essentially the same (nickel range for 304 is 8.00-10.50% and for 304L 8.00-12.00%). There are two European steels of the '304L' type, 1.4306 and 1.4307. The 1.4307 is the variant most commonly offered, outside Germany. The 1.4301 (304) and 1.4307 (304L) have carbon ranges of 0.07% maximum and 0.030% maximum, respectively. The chromium and nickel ranges are similar, nickel for both grades having an 8% minimum. 1.4306 is essentially a German grade and has 10% minimum Ni. This reduces the ferrite content of the steel and has found to be necessary for some chemical processes. The European grades for the 316 and 316L types, 1.4401 and 1.4404, match on all elements with carbon ranges of 0.07% maximum for 1.4401 and 0.030% maximum for 1.4404. There are also high Mo versions (2.5% minimum Ni) of 316 and 316L in the EN system, 1.4436 and 1.4432 respectively. To further complicate mattters, there is also grade 1.4435 which is both high in Mo (2.5% minimum) and in Ni (12.5% minimum).

Effect of carbon on corrosion resistance
The lower carbon 'variants' (316L) were established as alternatives to the 'standards' (316) carbon range grade to overcome the risk of intercrystalline corrosion (weld decay), which was identified as a problem in the early days of the application of these steels. This can result if the steel is held in a temperature range 450 to 850°C for periods of several minutes, depending on the temperature and subsequently exposed to aggressive corrosive environments. Corrosion then takes place next to grain boundaries. If the carbon level is below 0.030% then this intercrystalline corrosion does not take place following exposure to these temperatures, especially for the sort of times normally experienced in the heat affected zone of welds in 'thick' sections of steel.

Effect of carbon level on weldability
There is a view that the low carbon types are easier to weld than the standard carbon types. There does not seem to be a clear reason for this and the differences are probably associated with the lower strength of the low carbon type. The low carbon type may be easier to shape and form, which in turn may also affect the levels of residual stress left the steel after is forming and fitting up for welding. This may result in the 'standard' carbon types needing more force to hold them in position once fitted-up for welding, with more of a tendency to spring-back if not properly held in place. The welding consumables for both types are based on a low carbon composition, to avoid intercrystalline corrosion risk in the solidified weld nugget or from the diffusion of carbon into the parent (surrounding) metal.

Dual-certification of low carbon composition steels
Commercially produced steels, using current steelmaking methods, are often produced as the low carbon type as a matter of course due to the improved control in modern steelmaking. Consequently finished steel products are often offered to the market 'dual certified' to both grade designations as they can then be used for fabrications specifying either grade, within a particular standard. For example for coil, sheet or plate 304 Types BS EN 10088-2 1.4301 / 1.4307 to the European standard.

ASTM A240 304 / 304L OR ASTM A240 / ASME SA240 304 / 304L to the American pressure vessel standards. 316 Types BS EN 10088-2 1.4401 / 1.4404 to the European standard. ASTM A240 316 / 316L OR ASTM A240 / ASME SA240 316 / 316L, to the American pressure vessel standards.

Differences Between 18-8, 304, and 316 Stainless Steel
Answer: To answer this question, you first need to know some basic information about stainless steel. “ Stainless Steel” is the general name for a large family of alloy steels that contain at leas t 10.5% chromium as part of their composition. At and above this level of chromium, a complex chrome-oxide surface layer forms that prevents further oxygen atoms from penetrating into the steel and thus protects the iron in the matrix from rusting. This layer is what makes the steel “stainless.” Higher levels of chromium and the addition of other alloying elements such as molybdenum and nickel enhance this protective barrier and further improve the corrosion resistance of the stainless steel. There are many different types of stainless, but by far the most popular and widely used are the 300 series stainless steels, also known as the austenitic stainless steels.

The 300 series designation contains many different compositions of alloy steel (303, 304, 305, 316, 321, 347, etc.) but the common factors among them are:

     

Their carbon content is generally held to a maximum of 0.08% They (generally) have 18% chromium They (generally) have 8% nickel They are non-magnetic They cannot be hardened by heat treatment They can be hardened by cold working the material (“work hardening.”)

The term “18-8″ is often used to designate products made from 300 series stainless. This “18 -8″ call out is referring to the 18% chromium/8% nickel alloy mixture of the steel. “18 -8″ is not an actual specification, as it only refers to two different alloys in the steel. While all 300 series stainless steels share this 18/8 mix, slight differences in chemical composition between the different grades of the 300 series do make certain grades more resistant than others against particular types of corrosion. In the fastener industry the term “18 -8″ is often used as a designation for a bolt, nut, or washer manufactured from 300 series stainless steel material that has the 18% chromium/8% nickel alloy mixture. However, a fastener manufactured from stainless material that meets the 18/8 alloy mix does not necessarily meet the other slight differences in chemistry required to certify it as Type 304 stainless. Type 304 is by far the most popular of the 300 series stainless steels.

The second most popular type of stainless, after Type 304, is Type 316. In Type 316 stainless, the chromium content is lowered from 18% to 16%, however, the nickel content is raised to 10% and 2% molybdenum is added

to the mixture. This change in the chromium/nickel ratio and the addition of the molybdenum increases the resistance to chlorides. This is why Type 316 stainless is often used in more corrosive environments where the material will be exposed to chemical, solvent, or salt water corrosion and makes it the preferred material for marine construction.

Although fasteners can (and often are) ordered as simply Type 304 or Type 316 stainless, the actual ASTM specifications that cover stainless steel fasteners are A193, A320, and F593. A discussion of the differences between these ASTM specifications can be found in another FAQ.

Answer: First of all, a stainless steel is a steel that has > 10.5% Chromium (Cr); this ensures development of a chrome-oxide that prevents further oxidation. The 300 series of stainless steels differs from the 400 series in that the 300 series has both Cr and Nickel (Ni) - the 400 series has only Cr. 304 stainless steel has 18% Cr & 8% Ni. 316 stainless steel has 16% Cr, 10% Ni, & 2% Molybdenum (Mo). I believe this added Mo increases corrosion protection from chrloride-induced corrosion.

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