What is the Melting Point of Stainless Steel?

In Mechanical Engineering, Quality Control

Marlin Steel on January 2, 2020

Red hot steel is often much more pliable than steel at room temperature--making it easier to bend out of shape.Steel is well-known for its incredible durability against various stress factors. The impact tolerance, tensile strength, and heat resistance of steel far outclasses that of plastic polymers. Stainless steel alloys represent a further improvement that grants enhanced resistance to various caustic and corrosive chemicals.

However, just how tough is stainless steel when paired side by side to other metals? How does the stainless steel melting point compare with other metal melting points? This is a common question from companies looking to order a stainless steel basket or tray for high-intensity applications. 

Specifically, many companies with heat treatment, annealing, or sterilization processes wonder “what is the melting point of stainless steel?” because they have to use the steel for a high-temperature process.

How Much Heat Can Stainless Steel Take Before Melting?

This question is a valid one—but it can be hard to answer without first asking “what alloy of stainless steel are we talking about?”

There are countless different formulations of stainless steel out there, from the austenitic stainless steels (such as 304, 316, and 317) to the ferritic stainless steels (such as 430 and 434), as well as the martensitic stainless steels (410 and 420). Additionally, many stainless steels have low-carbon variants. The problem with trying to make a blanket statement about stainless steel melting point is that all of these alloys have different temperature tolerances and melting points.

Here is a list of different stainless steel alloys and the temperatures at which they melt (data based on figures from the BSSA):

  • Grade 304. 1400-1450°C (2552-2642°F)
  • Grade 316. 1375-1400°C (2507-2552°F)
  • Grade 430. 1425-1510°C (2597-2750°F)
  • Grade 434. 1426-1510°C (2600-2750°F)
  • Grade 420. 1450-1510°C (2642-2750°F)
  • Grade 410. 1480-1530°C (2696-2786°F)

You might have noticed that each of these melting points is expressed as a range, rather than an absolute number

This is because, even within a specific alloy of stainless steel, there is still the possibility of small variations in the formulation which can affect the melting point. These are just a few of the more common alloys of stainless steel on the market. There are many more variations of stainless steel that could be used in a range of applications—far too many to cover them all here.

While these are the melting points of these stainless steel alloys, the recommended maximum use temperatures of these alloys tends to be far lower.

Learn more about the characteristics of steel and other alloys under high heat here!

Other Metal Melting Points

It’s important to know about the properties of other metals and how they compare to the average stainless steel melting point. Below is a chart displaying the metal melting points of popular industrial alloys and metals.

 

Metal 

Melting Point Celsius (℃)

Melting Point Fahrenheit (℉)

Admiralty Brass

900 - 940

1650 - 1720

Aluminum 

660

1220

Aluminum Alloy

463 - 671

865 - 1240

Aluminum Bronze

600 - 655

1190 - 1215

Babbitt

249

480

Beryllium

1285

2345

Beryllium Copper

865 - 955

1587 - 1750

Bismuth

271.4

520.5

Brass, Red

1000

1832

Brass, Yellow

930

1710

Cadmium

321

610

Chromium

1860

3380

Cobalt

1495

2723

Copper

1084

1983

Gold, 24k Pure

1063

1945

Hastelloy C

1320 - 1350

2410 - 2460

Inconel

1390 - 1425

2540 - 2600

Incoloy

1390 - 1425

2540 - 2600

Iron, Wrought

1482 - 1593

2700 - 2900

Iron, Gray Cast

1127 - 1204

2060 - 2200

Iron, Ductile

1149 

2100

Lead

327.5

621

Magnesium

650

1200

Magnesium Alloy

349 - 649

660 - 1200

Manganese

1244

2271

Manganese Bronze

865 - 890

1590 - 1630

Mercury

-38.86

-37.95

Molybdenum

2620

4750

Monel

1300 - 1350

2370 - 2460

Nickel

1453

2647

Niobium (Columbium)

2470

4473

Palladium

1555

2831

Phosphorus

44

111

Platinum

1770

3220

Red Brass

990 - 1025

1810 - 1880

Rhenium

3186

5767

Rhodium

1965

3569

Selenium

217

423

Silicon

1411

2572

Silver, Pure

961

1761

Silver, Sterling

893

1640

Carbon Steel

1425 - 1540

2600 - 2800

Stainless Steel

1510

2750

Tantalum

2980

5400

Thorium

1750

3180

Tin

232

449.4

Titanium

1670

3040

Tungsten

3400

6150

Yellow Brass

905 - 932

1660 - 1710

Zinc

419.5

787

Why Metal Melting Points Shouldn’t Be Your Only Temperature Concern

At extremely high temperatures, many materials begin to lose their tensile strength. Steel is no exception. Even before the stainless steel melting point is reached, the metal itself becomes less rigid and more susceptible to bending when heated.

For example, let’s say a stainless steel alloy retains 100% of its structural integrity at 870°C (1679°F), but at 1000°C (1832°F) it loses 50% of its tensile strength. If the maximum load of a basket made with this alloy were 100 pounds, the basket would then only be able to hold 50 pounds of weight after exposure to the higher temperature. Any more weight, and the basket could bend out of shape under the load.

Also, exposure to high temperatures could have effects other than making stainless steel easier to bend or break. High temperatures can affect the protective oxide layer that keeps stainless steel from rusting—making it more susceptible to corrosion in the future.

In some cases, extreme temperatures can cause scaling on the surface of the metal. This can impact the performance of a parts handling basket or other custom wire form. Or, high temperatures can lead to thermal expansion of the metal in a custom wire basket, causing welded joints to come loose.

So, even if your particular process wouldn’t reach the stainless steel melting point exactly, high temperatures could still do damage in other ways.

It is also important to compare the melting points of steel alloys with other metal melting points to see what would fit your needs best. There are many factors that go into creating a quality basket and deciding what metal to use is a crucial question that depends on the basket’s task and environment.

This is why Marlin Steel’s engineering team runs finite element analyses on each and every basket design. By testing the effects of high temperatures on a design, the engineering team can spot potential issues like scaling, and test alternative materials that can prevent such problems from making the design invalid.

Get more insights into the properties of stainless steel by downloading the Stainless Steel Properties Sheet today!

Marlin Steel's Stainless Steel Properties Sheet

Author: Marlin Steel
Marlin Steel
Marlin Steel is a leading manufacturer of custom‐engineered products from steel wire and sheet metal. Its industrial material handling containers serve many industries including aerospace, defense, medical and automotive.

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