Posted October 25, 2019

    Stainless Steel Alloy Comparison

    part-4-30366Formability, strength, and overall aesthetic make Stainless Steel a widely-used material in everyday applications. Three common alloys make this material well-suited for a broad range of functions.

    From robotics to food processing, Stainless Steel proves itself with its long life span, recyclability and resistance to corrosion.

    303, 304 and 316 are the most common Stainless Steel alloys used in production. While each option offers versatility and strength, the specific alloy you choose depends on the unique factors of the final output.

    Here's what each of these common Stainless Steel alloys has to offer:

    303 Stainless Steel

    • Low weldability, but superior machinability compared to 304 and 316
    • Particularly desired for automatic machining operations
    • Ideal for corrosion-resistant, strong, long-lasting fasteners
    • Not as corrosion-resistant as 304 or 316
    • Non-magnetic
    • Lowest cost of the three allows

    A slight amount of sulfur in its composition increases its machinability, which is why 303 is often chosen for fasteners, bushings, bearings, and other small components.

    304 Stainless Steel

    • Suitable for most welding operations
    • Oxidation and corrosion resistant
    • Not ideal for high-chloride environments, as it causes pitting
    • High durability for ease of fabrication and prevention of contamination
    • Cost effective compared to 316, but at a more premium cost than 303

    304 is popular in projects where aesthetics and cleanliness are key, such as medical applications, processing equipment, and food handling.

    316 Stainless Steel

    • Easy to fabricate, clean, weld, and finish
    • Contains a significantly increased amount of molybdenum compared to 304, making it highly corrosion and heat resistant (up to 1600°F)
    • Resistant to solutions of sulfuric acid, chlorides, bromides, iodides, and fatty acids at high temperatures.
    • Commonly used in chemical processing, food and beverage applications, and in pulp and paper machinery.
    • The most expensive of the available stainless steel options.

    Consider for any project that might come into contact with chloride, including marine applications, food processing systems, and hot water systems.


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    Topics: materials, Manufacturing