316 stainless steel pipe

Comparison Between Stainless Steel Types 304 and 316

Stainless steel contains low carbon and about 10 percent chromium, which makes it more resistant to corrosion and shiny on the surface.

Stainless Steel Pipe

Stainless steel has a wide range of applications, from the fabrication of chemical equipment, to food equipment and in architectural applications. The chromium that is added makes it possible for the metal to form a hard, adherent chromium oxide film that resists corrosion. In case the metal develops a scratch, the film will react with oxygen and self-heal. This explains why 316 stainless steel tube is used in adverse applications, and they remain functional for many years.

Both 304 and 316 stainless steel tube have a solid structure, are easy to work with, and corrosion-resistant. These properties make them suitable for outdoor landscaping and architectural uses. The main advantages of stainless steel include durability, the ability to remain attractive, and low maintenance, among others as outlined below.

  • High resistance to corrosion
  • Resistance to heat and fire
  • Hygienic to use
  • Maintains aesthetic appearance
  • It is strong but not heavy
  • Easy to fabricate
  • Resistance to impact
  • It is durable
Composition of stainless steel
Composition of stainless steel

Austenitic 304 and 316

Austenitic stainless steel is made up of either chromium and nickel or chromium and manganese. The carbon quantities are maintained at low levels of 0.08 percent as a maximum, while the chromium content is between 16 and 28 percent. Nickel, on the other hand, has to be between 3.5 and 32 percent.

These two types of stainless steel cannot be hardened by exposing them to heat, but high strength can be achieved by a process known as cold working. Compared to the other variations, they are more malleable, and they have high elasticity and high levels of strength. Because of these properties, they are used to manufacture drainage pipes, grates, floor sinks, and trench drains, among others.

Difference between Type 304 and Type 316

By observing these two types of metals physically, you will not be able to pick any differences. Their unique differences can be deduced from the chemical composition. A look at them separately will bring out their distinctive characteristics.

Stainless Steel 304H Pipes
Stainless Steel 304H Pipes

Type 304

This type of stainless steel is the most commonly used. It is made up of between 16 and 25 percent chromium and 36 percent nickel. It also has essential traces of carbon and manganese. The most common chemical combination is known as 18/8. This is because it contains 18 percent chromium and eight percent nickel. This amount of chromium content makes the metal more resistant to corrosion and oxidation. In its element, type 304 steel is malleable, versatile, and very durable. When used in delicate places such as in a meat processing plant, it inhibits the growth of bacteria, making it healthier.

316 / 316L Stainless Steel Tube and Pipe
316 / 316L Stainless Steel Tube and Pipe

Type 316

This steel type is also referred to as marine grade stainless steel and resembles the Type 304 in many ways. The only difference is that it contains a molybdenum content of between two and three percent. This molybdenum improves the resistance to corrosion further, making the metal suitable for use in places with salty water, hence the name marine grade. It is also used in extremely acidic environments. Coastal areas have salty particles in the air, and in such places, highly resistant metals such as Type 316 are used because they will not need to be replaced from time to time.

Stainless steel Tubing Vs Piping

A key determining factor of which of the two options to go for is the strength needed. The more strength you require your applications to have then tubing is your safest bet. The shape of the two is also a determining factor albeit minor. Steel piping will generally be circular and thus might be limiting. Tubing, on the other hand, comes in various shapes and sizes allowing for more flexibility.

If your intended use relies more on the inner diameter then pipes are what you should look at but if you are more concerned about the exterior diameter then tubes are your best bet.

If you are looking for malleability then tubes are the way to go. Both pipes and tubes are considered to be rather rigid but pipes are way harder to manipulate than tubes. If you are sensitive about the way in which your metal is galvanized, then you get the option of either cold or hot rolled. Pipes come in one form of galvanizing — hot rolled.