What is 304 grade stainless steel?

Alloy 304 (UNS S30400, 1.4301) stainless steel is one of the most common grades of stainless steel, due to its relatively lower alloy content and cost compared with other corrosion-resistant alloys. Its other main elements include manganese, silicon and carbon with the remainder of the chemical composition being primarily iron.

Therefore, it has been widely used in an array of domestic applications including –

  • Saucepans
  • Springs, screws, nuts and bolts
  • Sinks and splashbacks
  • Architectural panelling
  • Tubing
  • Brewery, food, dairy and pharmaceutical production equipment
  • Sanitary ware and troughs

However, it has been substituted for lower cost ferritic stainless steels if the part can be manufactured without the need for welding. Other common applications include food processing equipment, such as for dairy products and brewing. As 304 stainless steel can be widely sourced in many different product forms, is easy to fabricate and weld. Other applications include automotive trim, fasteners, springs, heat exchangers and industrial equipment.

304 Stainless Steel Properties

304 alloys offer excellent resistance to corrosion when used in challenging environments and when used in contact with other corrosive media. Pitting and crevice corrosion can however occur in environments that contain chlorides, whereas stress corrosion cracking occurs above 60°C.

Alloy 304 also offers good resistance to oxidation in intermittent service up to 870°C and in continuous service to 925°C, although continuous usage between 425- 860°C isn’t recommended. 304 stainless steel readily work hardens, with fabrication methods that involve cold working requiring an intermediate annealing stage to lower work hardening and avoid cracking and tearing. Once fabrication is complete, a full annealing operation will be employed, reducing internal stresses and to optimise corrosion resistance.

The fusion welding performance for 304 stainless steel is excellent with and without fillers.

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If you would like to discuss the sourcing of austenitic, duplex and super duplex stainless steels, please contact us today. A member of our team will be more than happy to help and can also advise you on the best option for your application.

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