304 vs 316 Stainless Steel
304 and 316 stainless steel provide superior corrosion resistance and a surface area desirable for applications where the strength of iron and the resistance properties of chromium are beneficial.
304 stainless steel-also known as A2 stainless-is the most common stainless steel material. It is composed of 16 to 25 percent chromium and up to 36 percent nickel. It also contains small amounts of carbon and manganese. The most common form of 304 stainless steel is 18-8, which contains 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel. 304 has excellent malleability and is formed into many useful shapes. It also carries reduced corrosion resistance when compared to standard steel. 304 is used in a wide range of applications: plumbing, machine parts as well as household products. The main reason 304 is so widely used is because it is an excellent valve.
316 stainless steel-also known as marine grade or A4-is sometimes preferred because of its increased resistance to corrosion. The primary difference between 304 and 316 is the addition of molybdenum generally ranging from 2-3%. This addition of molybdenum provides a less reactive metal where salinity or chemical processes may affect the material. 316 stainless steel is widely used in marine, chemical and surgical applications.