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What is 304 stainless steel?
Before we look into 304 stainless steel properties we need to answer the question of what is 304 stainless steel.
The steel patented by Eduard Maurer and Benno Strauss, known as austenitic steel, is the backbone of the stainless steel industry, accounting for roughly 70% of all stainless steel production globally. Out of this production, 304 stainless steel is the most widely used, due to its composition of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, hence the moniker 18/8 steel.
In 1924, W. H. Hatfield further improved its composition and marketed it under the trade name “Staybrite 18/8”. The type 304 stainless steel properties make it a highly desirable material, with good forming and welding capabilities, as well as excellent corrosion resistance and strength. Discover more details in our 304 stainless steel data sheet.
304 Stainless Steel Properties
304 stainless steel properties include resistance to corrosion and staining, high heat resistance, formability, and non-magnetic features, which are highly valued. Due to these qualities, 304 stainless steel is a preferred material for a variety of manufacturing processes, including the production of surgical instruments and culinary appliances.
In particular, those who require a material that can survive hostile environments or for electronic applications where magnetic fields can create interference will find that 304 stainless steel is a versatile and dependable material.
Properties and usage
304 stainless steel properties make it a highly popular material for a variety of applications. Its exceptional resistance to corrosion, even in non-specialist environments, is a key factor that contributes to its widespread use. However, it’s important to note that it is not completely immune to corrosion, with pitting and crevice corrosion being common in environments containing chlorides. Additionally, stress corrosion cracking can occur at temperatures above 60°C.
The resistance of 304 steel to potable water is impressive, with up to 200 mg/L of chlorides present at ambient temperatures, reducing to 150 mg/L at 60°C. In situations where 304 steel may not be resistant enough, it’s advisable to opt for 316 stainless steel instead. The 304 stainless steel properties make it a strong option, but it’s always important to consider the specific needs of your project before making a final decision.
Regarding heat resistance, the properties of 304 stainless steel have a lot to offer. The outstanding anti-oxidant properties of 304 steel allow it to operate continuously at 925°F and intermittently at 870°F. Keep in mind that 304 is not advised for temperatures between 425-860°C.
The optimum choice in these conditions is 304L (the low-carbon form of 304) due to its greater resistance to carbide precipitation. 304H, which performs better than prior 304 iterations, is a superior solution for even higher temperatures. In general, the capacity of 304 steel to tolerate heat is a testament to its versatility and durability, making it a favored alternative for a range of applications.
Even while 304 stainless steel frequently costs slightly more than 302 stainless steel, the extra advantages of 304 make it a more advantageous purchase. 304 is the material of choice for many applications due to its exceptional resistance to heat and corrosion.
Additionally, it is stronger, making it a better option for prolonged use. The unique combination of strength, formability, and corrosion resistance offered by 304’s 18% chromium and 8% nickel composition makes it the perfect material for a variety of applications.
In conclusion, 304 stainless steel gives substantially more in terms of performance and durability despite having a similar price, making it a wise choice for many applications.
Advantages in outdoor applications
304 stainless steel has several benefits for outdoor applications due to its high nickel content, which enables it to withstand stress-corrosion cracking better than other varieties of stainless steel.
In addition to being less magnetic and more resistant to iron oxide due to its higher nickel content, 304 steel is ideal for outdoor applications such as architectural trim and barbecues.
In outdoor applications where corrosion resistance and durability are important factors, 304 stainless steel is widely utilized due to its special mix of properties.
304 stainless steel properties include having excellent fusion welding performance, which makes it a popular choice in various applications and industries. When using filler rods and electrodes, it is recommended to use 308 stainless steel, which offers even better performance.
However, for heavy sections, post-welding annealing may be necessary to ensure the stability of the structure. This flexibility in welding options, along with its strength and durability, is what makes 304 stainless steel such a versatile material for different projects.
It is not recommended to heat treat 304 stainless steel for hardening purposes. Instead, the material can undergo annealing or solution treatment through rapid cooling after heating it to a temperature range of 1010-1120°C.
This process helps to improve the material’s overall properties and maintain its structural integrity. Despite not being suitable for hardening, 304 stainless steel is still widely used for its excellent resistance to corrosion and its ability to maintain its strength and durability even in harsh environments.
Hot working is a process in which 304 stainless steel is heated to a high temperature before being formed into the desired shape. During hot working, methods such as forging should be used after uniform heating to 1149-1260°C.
It is important to note that to achieve the optimal 304 stainless steel properties, including the best possible corrosion resistance, the material should be rapidly cooled after the heating process is complete. This is because rapid cooling helps to preserve the uniform structure of the material, which contributes to its excellent resistance to corrosion and other types of degradation.
When it comes to cold working 304 stainless steel, it’s important to remember that the steel is prone to hardening. This means that during the fabrication process, it’s possible that tearing or cracking could occur. To prevent this, an intermediate annealing stage is often necessary. This helps to alleviate work hardening and ensure the fabrication process goes smoothly.
Additionally, once fabrication is complete, it’s recommended to conduct a full annealing operation to reduce any internal stresses and maximize the steel’s corrosion resistance. By taking these steps, the full benefits of 304 stainless steel properties can be realized
When it comes to fabricating with 304 stainless steel, it’s important to keep in mind a few key guidelines to ensure its properties and resistance to corrosion are maintained.
Firstly, it’s important to use tools specifically designed for working with stainless steel, using tools made for other metals can result in cross-contamination and decrease its resistance to corrosion.
Additionally, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean all surfaces before starting the fabrication process to remove any residue or contaminants that may negatively impact the final product. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that the 304 stainless steel retains its excellent properties and continues to perform optimally in your application.
A common choice for machining is 304 steel due to its excellent machinability characteristics. Cutting edges need to be kept sharp since dull edges might result in over-hardening of the product. It’s crucial to use light cuts that go deep enough to stop work hardening when milling 304 steel.
It is also advised to use coolants and lubricants to enhance the machining procedure and lessen friction. These safety measures will aid in improving the 304 stainless steel’s machinability, making it a more affordable and dependable solution for several applications.
- Auto moldings and trim
- Wheel covers
- Storage Tanks
- Kitchen equipment/appliances
- Electrical enclosures
- Kitchen benches, sinks, troughs, equipment, and appliances
- Chemical containers, including for transport
- Food processing equipment, particularly in beer brewing, milk processing, and winemaking
- Heat exchangers
- Architectural trim and molding
- Woven or welded screens for mining, quarrying & water filtration
- Automotive and aerospace structural use
- Nuts, bolts, screws, and other fasteners in the marine environment
- Construction material in large buildings
- Dyeing industry
304 Stainless Steel Physical Properties
- Density: 8.03g/cm3
- Electrical resistivity: 72 microhm-cm (20C)
- Specific Heat: 500 J/kg °K (0-100°C)
- Thermal conductivity: 16.3 W/m-k (100°C)
- Modulus of Elasticity (MPa): 193 x 103 in tension
- Melting Range: 2550-2650°F (1399-1454°C)
We offer a wide range of 304 stainless steel options to meet your various needs. Whether you’re looking for bar, wire, sheet, strip, or billets, we have got you covered. We also supply 304L stainless steel if you need a lower carbon option. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for more information on our full range of 304 stainless steel products and services.