To the layman, the differences between one grade of stainless steel and another are easy to miss. However, to a manufacturer, the difference between stainless steel alloys such as grade 304 stainless steel and grade 316 can be huge.
One question that Marlin Steel’s engineers hear a lot would be: Is grade 316 stainless steel worth the extra cost over grade 304 steel?
The answer depends on your application and needs.
What’s the Difference Between Grade 304 and Grade 316?
The most basic difference between grade 304 and grade 316 stainless steels is that 316 tends to have more nickel and a bit of molybdenum in the mix. The general mechanical properties of the two metals are mostly comparable.
The increased nickel content and the inclusion of molybdenum does make grade 316 stainless steel a bit costlier than grade 304 per ounce of material.
Where grade 316 stainless proves superior is its increased corrosion resistance—particularly against chlorides and chlorinated solutions. This makes grade 316 stainless particularly desirable for applications where exposure to salt is an issue.
Is it Worth the Extra Cost?
If you have an application with very powerful corrosives or relies on chlorides, then paying a premium for grade 316 stainless steel is definitely worth it. In such applications, 316 stainless will last many times longer than grade 304 stainless would—which can mean many extra years of useful life.
However, for applications using milder acids or where salt exposure isn’t a concern, grade 304 can work just as well.
Just be sure you’ve accounted for all process and environmental factors when choosing a material for your industrial parts baskets. For example, if your manufacturing plant is located on or near the coast, salty sea air can corrode metal that isn’t resistant to chlorides.
Overall, 316 can be worth the expense if you need to have superior corrosion resistance. For many other applications, grade 304 will serve perfectly fine.
Don’t know which metal is the best for your custom wire basket application? Consult an experienced mechanical engineer today!