Type 304 stainless steel vs. type 316

Written by jay leone
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Type 304 stainless steel vs. type 316
(Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Steel manufacturing companies offer different grades of stainless steel, including types 304 and 316. There are both differences and similarities between 304 and 316 grade stainless steels.


Type 304 stainless steel is one of the most commonly used grades. Both 304 and 316 stainless steels are used in the food and beverage industry. Silos, cheese vats, fruit tanks and wine tanks are often made out of either 304 or 316 stainless steel. Type 316 stainless steel is often used in marine applications like for boat fittings. This type of stainless steel was also employed to clad the exterior of the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and the Jin Mao Tower in China.


Both types 304 and 316 are austenitic stainless steels. This property contributes to their ductility and ability to be easily welded and formed. This also means that these steels are not magnetic. The chromium in stainless steels also adds a certain level of corrosion resistance to the metal. Type 304 stainless steel contains 18 per cent chromium, while 316-grade stainless steel contains 17 per cent chromium.


Molybdenum can also be added to steel to increase corrosion and pitting resistance. The presence of molybdenum is perhaps the biggest difference between 304 and 316 stainless steels. Type 304 stainless steel contains no traces of molybdenum, while 316 stainless steel contains 2.1 per cent molybdenum.

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