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304 and 316 Stainless Steel: What are the main differences?

Published date: 09/10/2018 13:45

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We supply many of our Stainless Steel products in a choice of two grades; 304 (also known as 1.4301 or V2A) and 316 (also known as 1.4404 or V4A).

It is extremely difficult to visually differentiate between the two steel types. Both 304 and 316 grades of Stainless Steel are easy to clean, easy to weld and are renowned for their durability and sustainability. Both grades also offer excellent levels of corrosion resistance especially when compared to other steel types.

The main differences between the grades are as follows:

  1. 304 grade Stainless Steel is suitable for installations in environments which are kept hygienically clean e.g. in the food industry. For environments where exposure to particularly hazardous or corrosive substances is likely eg. the Offshore or Chemical industries, it is recommended that the more resistant 316 grade Stainless Steel is used.
  2. The addition of Molybdenum during the manufacturing process makes 316 Stainless Steel stronger and more durable, capable of withstanding higher levels of corrosion and the affects of chemicals such as chlorides and sulphuric acid.
  3. The Offshore industry would require the 316 grade of Stainless Steel as the acids found in salt water would attack 304; tarnishing the steel and potentially causing rusting.
  4. 316 grade Stainless Steel is often specified in Pharmaceutical installations in order to prevent excessive metallic contamination.
  5. 316 grade Stainless Steel is also significantly more resistant to heat in comparison to 304.

For more information or general advice on which grade is best for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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