304 vs. 316 Stainless Steel - What is the difference?

January 12, 2024

From a chemical or scientific perspective, the explanation is that 304 stainless steel consists of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, while 316 contains 16% chromium, 10% nickel, and 2% molybdenum. Molybdenum is added to enhance corrosion resistance.

Type 304, characterized by its chromium-nickel content and low carbon, stands out as the most versatile and frequently used among austenitic stainless steels. It demonstrates resistance to oxidation and corrosion.

Type 304 stainless facilitates easy fabrication and cleaning, prevents product contamination, and offers various finishes. It finds application in enclosures, storage tanks, pressure vessels, and tubing or piping.

Type 316 stainless steel, an austenitic chromium-nickel and heat-resisting steel, exhibits superior corrosion resistance compared to other chromium-nickel steels when exposed to various chemical corrodents.

While the upfront cost of Type 316 stainless steel may be slightly higher, it can lead to significant savings in the long run, a crucial consideration for buyers.

Due to the inclusion of molybdenum, Type 316 displays considerably greater resistance to chemical attack than 304. It is durable, easy to fabricate, clean, weld, and finish.

Type 316 stainless steel proves notably more resistant to solutions of sulfuric acid, chlorides, bromides, iodides, and fatty acids at high temperatures. The use of stainless steels containing molybdenum is imperative in certain pharmaceutical manufacturing to avoid excessive metallic contamination.

304 vs. 316 - which is more expensive? Buyers might observe a slightly higher upfront cost with 316 stainless steel, but its resistance to corrosion and rust could result in significant savings in the long term, a crucial factor to consider during the purchasing process.