304/304L Stainless Steel

304 Stainless is a low carbon (0.08% max) version of basic 18-8 also known as 302. Type 302 has 18% chromium and 8% nickel.

ASTM A213 TP304 Stainless Steel Seamless Tube is manufactured by seamless process used in high pressure environment, stainless steel TP304 grade is the most used material due to its high strength and excellent corrosion resistance.

Type 304 has slightly lower strength than 302 due to its lower carbon content. Type 304 finds extensive use in welding applications because the low carbon permits some exposure in the carbide precipitation range of 800°F – 1500°F without the need for post-annealing operations.

However, the severity of corrosive environments may necessitate annealing after welding or the use of 304L.

Type 304L has a carbon content of 0.03% or less. This alloy can be used in the as-welded condition without becoming susceptible to intergranular corrosion.

Specifications – Stainless Steel 304/304L

  • ASTM:A312, A376,A358, A269,A249, A403, A182, A351
  • ASME: SA312, SA376
  • Pressure SA358,SA269, SA249,SA403, SA182, SA351

The main constituents of 304 stainless steel – other than iron – are Chromium and Nickel.

304 contains 18 – 20% Chromium (Cr). Chromium is the essential chemical in all stainless steel and it is that which forms the thin passive layer that makes the metal “stainless”

304 also contains 8-10.5% Nickel (Ni). This is added to make the Austenitic structure more stable at normal temperatures. 

The nickel also improves high-temperature oxidation resistance makes the steel resistant to stress corrosion cracking.

Where the steel is to be stretched formed a lower percentage (8%) of nickel should be selected. If the steel is to be deep drawn a higher percentage is better (9% or more).

In addition a number of other chemicals may be present but these are expressed as maximum permited levels with the exception of the increased quantity of carbon required in 304H – i.e. a minimum of .04% and a maximum of 0.10%

*Maximum carbon content of 0.04% acceptable for drawn tubes

What’s the Difference Between Grade 304 ,304L & 304H Stainless Steel?

There are hundreds of different grades of stainless steel on the market. Each of these unique formulations of stainless steel offer some degree of corrosion resistance above and beyond that of plain steel.

The existence of these stainless steel variants can cause some confusion—especially when the names & formulations of two stainless steel alloys are almost the same. This is the case with grade 304 and 304L stainless steel.

Chemical Composition - Stainless Steel 304/304L

Chromium18- 2018- 2018- 20
Percentage by Weight Maximum Unless Range is Specified

These three alloys are remarkably similar—but there is one key difference. In grade 304 stainless, the maximum carbon content is set at 0.08%, whereas grade 304L stainless steel has a maximum carbon content of 0.03%. The “L” in 304L can be interpreted as meaning extra-low carbon.

This difference of 0.05% carbon content produces a slight, but marked, difference in the performances of the two alloys.

The Mechanical Difference

Grade 304L has a slight, but noticeable, reduction in key mechanical performance characteristics compared to the “standard” grade 304 stainless steel alloy.

Typical Mechanical Properties-Stainless Steel 304/304L

GradeTensile Strength Rm N/mm²Yield Strength Rp 0.2, N/mm²Elongation (%)
304 Annealed500-70019540
304L Annealed460-68018040

Physical Properties

Data MetricEnglish
Density8 g/cc0.289 lb/in³

Thermal Properties

Design Features – Stainless Steel 304/304L

  • Oxidation resistance up to 1650°F for continuous service and up to 1500°F where cyclic heating is involved.
  • General purpose corrosion resistance.
  • Non-hardenable except by cold working.
  • Non-magnetic except when cold worked.
  • May be susceptible to chloride stress corrosion cracking.
  • Used where field working is employed.

Typical Applications – Stainless Steel 304/304L

  • Sanitary
  • Dairy and food processing
  • Heat exchangers, evaporators
  • Feedwater heaters

Tensile Requirements – Stainless Steel 304/304L

  • Tensile Strength (KSI): 70
  • Yield Strength (KSI): 25

Each alloy represents an excellent combination of corrosion resistance and fabricability. This combination of properties is the reason for the extensive use of these alloys which represent nearly one half of the total U.S. stainless steel production. The 18-8 stainless steels, principally Alloys 304, 304L, and 304H, are available in a wide range of product forms including sheet, strip, and plate. The alloys are covered by a variety of specifications and codes relating to, or regulating, construction or use of equipment manufactured from these alloys for specific conditions. Food and beverage, sanitary, cryogenic, and pressure-containing applications are examples.

Alloy 304 is the standard alloy since AOD technology has made lower carbon levels more easily attainable and economical. Alloy 304L is used for welded products which might be exposed to conditions which could cause intergranular corrosion in service.

Alloy 304H is a modification of Alloy 304 in which the carbon content is controlled to a range of 0.04-0.10 to provide improved high temperature strength to parts exposed to temperatures above 800°F.

For example, the ultimate tensile strength (UTS) of 304L is roughly 85 ksi (~586 MPa), less than the UTS of standard grade 304 stainless, which is 90 ksi (~620 MPa). The difference in yield strength is slightly greater, with 304 SS having a 0.2% yield strength of 42 ksi (~289 MPa) and 304L having a 0.2% yield strength of 35 ksi (~241 MPa).

This means that if you had two steel wire baskets and both baskets had the exact same design, wire thickness, and construction, the basket made from 304L would be structurally weaker than the standard 304 basket.

Why Would You Want to Use 304L, Then?

So, if 304L is weaker than standard 304 stainless steel, why would anyone want to use it?

The answer is that the 304L alloy’s lower carbon content helps minimize/eliminate carbide precipitation during the welding process. This allows 304L stainless steel to be used in the “as-welded” state, even in severe corrosive environments.

If you were to use standard 304 stainless in the same way, it would degrade much faster at the weld joints.

Basically, using 304L eliminates the need to anneal weld joints prior to using the completed metal form—saving time and effort.

In practice, both 304 and 304L can be used for many of the same applications. The differences are often minor enough that one isn’t considered massively more useful over the other. When stronger corrosion resistance is needed, other alloys, such as grade 316 stainless steel, are usually considered as an alternative.

ASTM A213 / ASME SA213

ASTM A213 / ASME SA213 is a America specification for stainless steel boiler, super heater, heat exchanger tubes, executed by most world stainless steel seamless tubes mills and factories, minimum wall thickness required in A213 seamless tube, or average wall thickness as customers requirement, tight tolerance of outside and wall thickness stated as A213 standard or A1016

The difference between 304 stainless steel and 316 stainless steel, which is better for everyday use

Stainless steel items are widely used in our daily lives, but stainless steel also has different materials, such as304 stainless steel and 316 stainless steel. Can you distinguish between these two materials, what is the difference between 304 and 316?

Differences in material properties:

304 stainless steel is austenitic stainless steel, which cannot be strengthened by heat treatment, cannot be tempered like carbon steel, and is not magnetic. 304 has excellent mechanical properties and has considerable corrosion resistance and high temperature resistance. It is widely used as heat-resistant stainless steel.

316 stainless steel has better acid and alkali resistance and high temperature resistance than 304, and is mainly used in the food industry and surgical instruments. In addition, 316 stainless steel has a remarkable characteristic, that is, there is basically no thermal expansion and contraction, which is extremely important for precision parts.

Differences in the main components of metals:

The chromium content of 304 stainless steel and 316 stainless steel is 16 to 18 percent, but the average nickel content of 304 stainless steel is 9 percent, while the average nickel content of 316 stainless steel is 12 percent. Nickel in metallic materials can improve the high temperature durability, mechanical properties and oxidation resistance of materials. Therefore, the nickel content in the material directly affects the integral properties of the material.

Differences in use:

304 stainless steel is widely used in the manufacture of equipment and parts that require comprehensive high performance (corrosion resistance and formability). 316 stainless steel is mainly used in pulp and paper manufacturing equipment, heat exchangers, dyeing equipment, membrane treatment equipment, pipes, exterior wall building materials in coastal areas, etc.

In our daily lives, we commonly have pots, bowls, shovels, pots, shovels, spoons and thermos cups, etc. These daily necessities generally use 304 stainless steel materials. Generally speaking, 304 stainless steel is sufficient in our daily lives. Because 304 stainless steel is characterized by its resistance to acids and alkalis and its resistance to high temperatures. The tableware we usually use is acid and alkaline corrosion, so we only need to be able to resist acid and alkali.

Stainless steel vacuum jars have been widely used in our daily life, but there is still a lot of understanding about the choice of stainless steel vacuum jars. For example, when we buy a thermos cup, we mainly look at the words “GB9684” on the package or if there is “SUS304” in the cup. We need to buy proven stainless steel products. Because food-grade 304 stainless steel must meet the heavy metal precipitation standard, while ordinary 304 stainless steel has not undergone these tests, when you buy, carefully check the brand on the package.

Stainless steel tableware, as the name suggests, does not rust, but also has resistance to acid corrosion. All stainless steel can easily do this, but does anyone think their stainless steel products are rusty? Is it fake? Actually, this is a misunderstanding. In fact, such oxide is not caused by oxidation of air, but by acid corrosion. In our daily lives, we are often exposed to acidic substances, such as ordinary rain. Our stainless steel products corrode with acid, just like rust.

However, in our daily life, it is very good to use 304 stainless steel. Of course, some people think 316 is better. After all, the 316 has better corrosion resistance and high temperature resistance. Generally speaking, as long as there are no corrosive food materials, I think304 stainless steelis a more cost-effective option.