Grade 304 Stainless Steel is the most widely used grade of stainless, and is a favorite of stainless steel fabricators due to its heat and corrosion resistant properties, weld-ability and machinability. This grade is a favorite of architects, transportation specialists, and industrial personnel, but there are still viable opportunities that may be preferred for some applications.
Here are some of the main possible alternative grades of stainless steel:
- 301L: This is a higher work hardening rate grade, and is a must for certain roll formed and stretch formed components of stainless steel. This steel is preferred to Grade 304 steel under these conditions.
- 302HQ: Unlike the previous metal, this grade is has a lower work hardening rate than Grade 304. This is needed for cold forging of bolts, screws, and rivets.
- 303: Grade 303 has higher machinability than Grade 304 stainless, and has lower corrosion resistance, formability, and weld-ability. These weaknesses are acceptable in applications where machinability is necessary.
- 316: This metal has a higher resistance to crevice corrosion and pitting, and is needed in chloride environments.
- 321: This stainless has better resistance to temperatures between 600 and 900 degrees Celsius, and has higher hot strength than grade 304 stainless steel.
- 3CR12: This stainless is preferred when lower cost stainless steel sheet metal is required. It should be noted that this steel has reduced corrosion resistance, and discoloration may occur.
- 430: This is another low-cost alternative, and has lower corrosion resistance and fabrication characteristics than Grade 304 stainless steel sheets.