304 and 316 stainless steel are both popular choices for a wide range of applications due to their excellent corrosion resistance and other desirable properties.
304 stainless steel is a popular and widely used stainless steel alloy. It has excellent corrosion resistance and is often used for a wide range of applications, including kitchen appliances, food processing equipment, automotive parts, and construction materials.
316 stainless steel is a corrosion-resistant alloy that contains molybdenum. This makes it particularly well-suited for use in harsh or corrosive environments, such as marine or chemical applications. The addition of molybdenum in 316 stainless steel improves its resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion, which can occur in chloride-rich environments. This makes it an ideal choice for applications such as saltwater and chemical processing equipment, and surgical and medical instruments.
There are some key differences between the two stainless steels.
The main difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel is the chemical composition. 304 contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel, while 316 contains 16% chromium, 10% nickel and 2% molybdenum. The addition of molybdenum makes 316 more corrosion resistant than 304 in certain environments.
While both grades are corrosion resistant, 316 stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion in chloride environments, such as coastal areas or places with high levels of salt in the air. This is due to the presence of molybdenum, which enhances its corrosion resistance.
316 stainless steel is generally stronger and harder than 304 stainless steel, although both grades are suitable for most applications.
316 stainless steel is generally more expensive than 304 stainless steel due to the additional molybdenum content.
In summary, 316 stainless steel is typically a better choice than 304 in harsh or chloride-rich environments, but it may be more expensive. 304 stainless steel is a more cost-effective option for general-purpose applications that do not require the enhanced corrosion resistance of 316.
Source: SAE 304 stainless steel