Type 304 and 316 stainless steel are both 300 series stainless steel alloys (austenitic alloys), which are specially used for the preparation and drawing of stainless steel sinks or stainless steel faucets.
Among the wide range of stainless steels on the market, both 304 and 316 stainless steels have strength, workability and corrosion resistance. The main difference is that the molybdenum content in 316 stainless steel is about 2-3%. Additives increase corrosion resistance, especially against chlorides and other industrial solvents, making it a better choice for harsh outdoor environments and high-exposure applications.
The advantages of stainless steel include a long service life, which can maintain a beautiful, clean appearance, and low maintenance costs. Cost is an important consideration when choosing the right grade of stainless steel, but be sure to carefully consider the environment in which the product operates.
Visually comparing two pieces of seemingly the same metal (polished and granular), it is impossible to tell which one is type 304 and which one is 316. The unique qualities of each metal can be found under the surface and in its chemical composition.
Although both alloys are stainless steel, and the contents are very similar, chromium imparts shine and durability to stainless steel. There are some key differences in the percentages of chromium, nickel and carbon content in the alloy.
YPE 304 is a basic chromium-nickel austenitic stainless steel, which is usually cheaper and has been found to be suitable for the widest range of applications in a variety of products and construction projects. As part of the 300 series name, it consists primarily of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, sometimes referred to as 18-8 stainless steel. It is non-magnetic and cannot be hardened by heat treatment. It is easily available in various forms. This type is easy to form and manufacture and has excellent corrosion resistance.
Type 316 is the second most common steel grade (after 304), but with 2-3% molybdenum added. The addition of molybdenum and the slightly higher nickel content make Type 316 stainless steel suitable for construction applications in harsh environments. Due to its increased resistance to chloride corrosion compared to Type 304, it is also known as marine grade stainless steel. Type 316 is typically used in high acid environments and requires additional protection against chemical corrosion.
Whichever you choose, stainless steel is often the cheapest material choice when considering total life cycle costs.
Stainless steel is 100% recyclable. It is estimated that about 80% of stainless steel is recycled at the end of its useful life to produce more stainless steel, and the process can be performed indefinitely. This means that resources can be saved and the same material can be continuously recycled in the production chain in a sustainable closed-loop system, making it an environmentally friendly material.
From documented sanitation and corrosion resistance to almost unparalleled sustainability, Type 304 and 316 stainless steels offer design professionals numerous advantages and are the right choice for many projects.
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