Stainless steel is the alloy result of adding nickel, chromium and other elements to iron. These elements inhibit corrosion from occurring to the metal, and make stainless steel a useful material for commercial uses. These different alloys allow fabrication and use possibilities among the different grades. This allows the 300 series is the most widely available and used of all stainless steel grades.
300 Series Stainless Steel
The 300 stainless steels have approximately 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel added. This makes it also known as 18-8 stainless steel. The 300 series has the best corrosion resistance of the different stainless steel grades. These different alloy variations affect corrosion resistance and ability to manufacture. This allows use of the 300 series for a variety of commercial applications.
Type 303 Stainless Steel
Type 303 is similar to both 304 and 316 grades of stainless steel. Its corrosion resistance is similar to 304 but not as resistant as type 316. Mechanical properties are similar, but the higher sulfur content of the 303 alloy allows easier machining of this grade than 304 and 316, which contain less sulfur. Applications that require a high amount of machining make type 303 a good choice for these uses. These items include shafts, gears, threaded uses, aircraft fittings and bushings.
Type 304 Stainless Steel
The most widely used stainless steel grade is 304. It has wide uses in the food processing industry. Milk, beer and wine producing use this grade. Springs and fasteners such as nuts, bolts and other threaded fasteners use this grade. The water and mining industry use it for filters and screens. Type 304 has wide architectural uses for trim and hand rails. Kitchenware such as sinks, refrigerators, food preparation tables and tableware use this grade. Type 304 is used for mildly corrosive chemicals.
Type 316 Stainless Steel
This type of stainless steel has 16 to 18 percent chromium and 11 to 14 percent nickel and a minimum of 2 percent molybdenum. Molybdenum gives 316 additional resistance to corrosion making it useful in chemically hostile conditions. Uses for this grade of stainless steel is in the more corrosive conditions such as food and beverage processing, chemical processing, agricultural uses and the pulp and paper industry. Type 316 is the marine grade stainless steel and used in marine applications. 316L is the low carbon version that allows easier welding.
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