The difference between 304 & 316 stainless steel

Stainless steel is well known for its strength and ease of maintenance. But did you know that not all stainless steel is created the same even though it may look uniform at first glance? There are actually different grades of stainless steel each offering their own unique pros and cons. It is beneficial information to know whether the steel you are using is suited for its intended purpose, thereby saving substantially regarding the life-cycle of your product. We need to consider each metal’s specific traits and performance characteristics in order to make informed decisions on which type to opt for.


There are five families of stainless steel. The 304 and 316 stainless steel varieties contain high levels of chromium and nickel and are known as austenitic grades. All stainless steel contains a combination of iron and chromium at different levels. It is this exact mix including other additions which create the various grade distinctions. Let’s break down the grade anatomy further, and discuss the comparisons and differences between the two most popular grades globally.


Steel Constituents and Their Influence:

  • Chromium – Responsible for increased tensile strength, toughness, hardness and hardenability. It is also resistant to abrasion, wear, corrosion, as well as scaling at elevated temperatures.
  • Nickel – Responsible for increased strength and toughness without sacrificing any ductility and hardness.
  • Alloy elements – When alloys such as molybdenum are added, it creates subtle and important differences in terms of strength, hardness, hardenability, toughness, creep resistance and durability at loftier temperatures.


Let’s Talk About 304 Stainless Steel

This is the most common type of stainless steel ordered worldwide. It is also the most widely used grade in kitchen equipment and industrial settings. It offers high heat resistance and corrosion resistance to various industrial and chemical corrodents and atmospheres. It can also be easily welded due to its strong formability.


Let’s Talk About 316 Stainless Steel

You can expect vastly superior levels of strength at greater temperatures, as well as increased corrosion and pitting resistance with chlorides and acids. This is partly due to the addition of molybdenum. These properties make it the ideal steel for a wide range of environments and applications. Plus, its high resistance threshold means it can withstand frequent cleaning sessions using potent cleaning agents, minus the damage or altering of the material’s appearance in any regard. These features make 316 steel an ideal upgrade for environments which demand strict hygiene and cleanliness standards.


Common Applications for 304 and 316 Stainless Steel


304 Stainless Steel:

  • Storage tanks
  • Indoor electrical enclosures
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Automotive trim and covers
  • Appliances
  • Decorative trim


316 Stainless Steel:

  • Environments with regular exposure to alkalis and acids
  • Commercial kitchen surfaces, equipment, and appliances
  • Pharmaceutical equipment
  • Coastal environments and areas with high salt levels such as roadways
  • Brewing facilities
  • Medical equipment and implants
  • Chemical and textile equipment
  • Stainless steel floats
  • Pumps, valves, paper and pulp
  • Structural steel and components in marine environments


Stainless Steel 304 Versus Stainless Steel 316


Main Similarities

Both metal grades are effective in the categories of strength, resistance, corrosion, heat resistance and welding.


Main Differences

Stainless steel 316 is more expensive, but due to its alloy elements it takes precedence over 304 stainless steel in all the categories of strength, resistance, corrosion, heat resistance and welding.


Price Points

The price of both these metals may fluctuate accordingly based on the raw material costs. In order to help offset these fluctuations, surcharges are added typically per pound to the base price and then varied by the mill.


Capic Range of Stainless Steel Kitchen Equipment

The Capic range of cooking chambers, French cooking suite and tunnels, combi ovens, cooker/coolers, kettle/bratt pans, small appliances and more make use of the highest quality stainless steel. We employ state of the art technologies and engineering techniques. The stainless steel used in the construction of our industrial cooking equipment embodies the pinnacle of resistance, strength, hygiene and ease of maintenance. In addition, they are a breeze in terms of keeping clean and hygienically sanitary. Contact us for further details.

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