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The Key Differences Between 304 and 316 Stainless Steel

The Key Differences Between 304 and 316 Stainless Steel

Whatever industry you are in, the chances are that you've stumbled upon this blog post because you need a stainless steel casting - except, there are many different grades of stainless steel alloys, and 304 and 316 are the two most common ones.

This blog post is a comprehensive guide about the differences in chemical properties and preferred industries for 304 and 316 stainless steel. If you're unsure which metal grade is right for your steel casting, keep reading below.

the key differences between 304 and 316 ss casting

304 Stainless Steel:

304 stainless steel is popular in kitchen appliances and food processing equipment for its corrosion resistance and from being easy to clean. It's an austenitic steel, which gives it a structure that is nonmagnetic and low in carbon.

304 is also commonly known as 18-8 steel for being 18% chromium and 8% nickel. The amount of chromium contributes to the steel's hardness and the nickel enhances its corrosion resistance. However, it experiences pitting corrosion when exposed to chlorides.

304 SS Chemical Composition:
  • Carbon: ≤ 0.08
  • Chromium: 18-20%
  • Iron: Balance
  • Manganese: ≤ 2%
  • Nickel: 8 -10.5%
  • Phosphorus: ≤ 0.045%
  • Sulfur: ≤ 0.03%
  • Silicon: ≤ 1%
Industries for 304 SS Investment Castings


Learn More about 304 SS Castings

316 Stainless Steel:

316 is a ferritic stainless steel, meaning it has similar characteristics to austenitic, except it has lower chromium, higher nickel, molybdenum, and is slightly magnetic.

316 contains 2-3% molybdenum, which enhances chloride resistance. This makes it a clear winner for applications that involve salt, including cookware such as pots and pans, and utensils. It's also recommended for anything involving acidic compounds, such as tomato, lemon or lime juice.

316 SS Chemical Composition: 
  • Carbon: ≤ 0.08%
  • Chromium: 16-18%
  • Nickel: 10-14%
  • Molybdenum: 2-3%
  • Iron: Balance
  • Manganese: ≤ 2%
  • Silicon: ≤ 1%
  • Phosphorus: ≤ 0.045%
  • Sulfur: ≤ 0.030%
  • Nitrogen ≤ 0.10%
Industries for 316 SS Investment Castings


Learn More about 316 SS Castings

Choosing Between 304 and 316 for Investment Casting

Choosing the right grade of stainless steel is essential, and it's easy to confuse 304 with 316 stainless steel. As a rule of thumb, if the destination of your metal casting is aqueous, 304 or 316 are both good solutions. If it will be exposed to salt, 316 contains molybdenum, which gives it strong chloride resistance. If it won't be exposed to any salts, 304 is a cost-effective solution.

Milwaukee Precision Casting is a Leading Stainless Steel Manufacturer

Since 1993, Milwaukee Precision Casting has been producing high quality investment castings for the world's most critical industries. Our process guarantees the most precise castings with linear tolerances of +-0.005 per inch. Whether your priority is strength or corrosion resistance, we are committed to providing the highest quality stainless steel castings.

To start your 304 or 316 stainless steel casting project with Milwaukee Precision Casting, request a quote today!

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