Stainless Steel 304 Grade – Brief Overview

Stainless steel 304 is the greatest stainless success story. If you want to know about the details of the grade 304 Stainless Steels, then keep reading.

Grade 304L is a low carbon 304 and is mostly used in welded components to prevent potential sensitizing corrosion. The carbon content of grade 304H is higher than 304L, which increases strength (especially at temperatures above about 500 degrees C). This grade is not intended for applications where corrosion by sensitization could be expected.

Characteristics of 304 Grade

Corrosion resistance

In a wide variety of media, grade 304 has excellent corrosion resistance. In most architectural applications, it avoids habitual rusting. It is also resistant to most conditions in food production, can be washed easily and avoids organic chemicals, dye stuffs, and a wide range of inorganic chemicals.

304 is subject to pitting and crevice corrosion in warm chloride environments and to stress corrosion cracking when exposed to tensile stresses above about 50 degrees C.

Heat resistance

304 has strong oxidation resistance to 870 degrees C in intermittent service and 925 degrees C in continuous service. If subsequent exposure to room temperature aqueous environments is required, continuous use of 304 in the 425-860 degree C range is not recommended, but it often performs well in temperatures fluctuating above and below this range. Grade 304L is more carbide precipitation resistant and can be used in the temperature range above.


Grade 304 has outstanding formative characteristics. Without intermediate heat softening, it can be drawn deeply-a feature that has rendered this grade dominant in the development of drawn stainless pieces, such as sinks and saucepans. It is readily developed into a number of other components for use in the fields of automotive, architectural and transport brake or roll.

Grade 304 has excellent weldability and (although oxyacetylene is not usually used) all standard welding techniques can be used. To restore 304’s corrosion resistance, post-weld annealing is often not needed, although adequate post-weld clean-up is recommended. 304L needs no post-weld annealing and sees widespread use in the manufacture of heavy gauges.

If slower speeds and heavy feeds are used, instruments are rigid and sharp, and cutting fluids are used, the regular austenitic grades such as 304 can be easily machined. There also exists a ‘improved machinability’ version of 304.

What are some of the typical applications of Stainless steel 304 grade?

These SS 304 grade are used in a variety of applications brewing and dairy equipment, drums, barrels, heat exchangers, evaporators, hospital equipment, refrigeration parts, chemical and food processing, kitchens, kitchen utensils, sinks, shop fittings, bench tops, wash troughs, urinals, hand rails, ovens, heating trays, dishwashers, clothes dryers, guttering and rain water goods, air conditioning equipment, counters and display cabinets, commercial oven hoods, hot and cold food bars, beer barrels.

How good is SS 304 grade?

The Stainless Steel 304 grade is corrosion resistant in fresh water environments as long as you are outside of 20 miles of a body of salt-water and there are no other corrosive chemicals than 304 should be fine.

Both steels are robust and have outstanding corrosion and rust resistance. 304 stainless steel, due to its corrosion resistance, is the world’s most versatile and commonly used austenitic stainless steel. Compared with 316, 304 stainless is also cheaper in cost, another reason for its popularity and widespread use.

As the most commonly used of all stainless steel, in automotive applications and kitchen appliances, 304 stainless steel is most notably present. It is extremely heat-resistant and gives many chemical corrodents, as well as industrial atmospheres, strong corrosion resistance. 304 stainless steel can be readily welded by all traditional methods with good formability.

Stainless Steel 304 Grade – Brief Overview

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