304 / 316 vs 304L / 316L Stainless Steel


304 stainless steel and 316 stainless steel are austenitic grades that contain high levels of chromium and nickel. This has the following impact:

 Chromium – Increases tensile strength, hardness, toughness resistance to wear and abrasion, resistance to corrosion and scaling at elevated temperatures. 
 Nickel - Increases strength and hardness without sacrificing ductility and toughness. 

316 Stainless adds Molybdenum

 Molybdenum - Increases strength, hardness, hardenability, and toughness as well as creep resistance, and strength at elevated temperatures.

What is 304 Stainless Steel?

As the most widely used of all stainless steel, 304 stainless steel is most notably present in industrial applications and kitchen equipment. It is a highly heat-resistant grade, and offers good corrosion resistance to many chemical corrodents, as well as industrial atmospheres. With good formability, 304 stainless steel can be readily welded by all common methods. 

What is 316 Stainless Steel?

With 316 stainless steel, you can expect better corrosion and pitting resistance than 304 stainless steel and higher levels of strength at elevated temperatures. This is due in part to the addition of molybdenum. This is what makes it an ideal grade for such applications as pumps, valves, textile and chemical equipment, pulp & paper and marine applications. 

What's the Difference Between 304 Stainless Steel and 316 Stainless Steel?

When it comes to 304 stainless steel vs 316 stainless steel, both are good for corrosion resistance, strength, welding, and heat resistance, 316 stainless steel gets the slight edge in all these categories due to variation in alloying elements.

What is L grade stainless?

304L/316L stainless steel has a lower carbon content than standard 304/306.  Containing .03%, instead of .08%

This extra low carbon variation that avoids harmful carbide precipitation due to welding. 

This variation offers the same corrosion resistance as 304/316 stainless steel, but with slightly lower mechanical properties.

Dual Grade Stainless

It is common practice for 304L/ 316L to be dual certified as 304/316 and 304L/316L. The low carbon chemistry of 304L/316L combined with an addition of nitrogen enables 304L/316L to meet the mechanical specifications of 304/316 grade.

Most Industrial Valves and Fittings are dual grade/ dual certified.


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