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TP304 1.4301 stainless steel is a variation of the 18% chromium – 8% nickel austenitic stainless steel, the most familiar and most frequently used alloy in the stainless steel family. This stainless steel be considered for a wide variety of application on good corrosion resistance, ease fabrication, excellent formability, and high strength with low weight.

Grade 304 is the standard “18/8” stainless steel; it is the most versatile and most widely used stainless steel, available in a wider range of products, forms and finishes than any other. It has excellent forming and welding characteristics. The balanced austenitic structure of Grade 304 enables it to be severely deep drawn without intermediate annealing, which has made this grade dominant in the manufacture of drawn stainless steel part such as sink, hollow-ware and saucepan. For these application it is common to use special “304DDQ” (Deep Drawing Quality) variants.

Grade 304 is readily brake or roll formed into a variety of components for application in the industrial, architectural, and transportation fields. Grade 304 also has outstanding welding characteristic. Post-weld annealing is not required when welding thin sections.

Grade 304L, the low carbon version of 304, does not require post-weld annealing and so is extensively used in heavy gauge component (over about 6mm). Grade 304H with its higher carbon content finds application at elevated temperature. The austenitic structure also gives these grades excellent toughness, even down to cryogenic temperature.





General Properties
Chemical Composition
Resistance to Corrosion
Physical Properties
Mechanical Properties
Welding
Heat Treatment
Cleaning




Key Properties
These properties are specified for flat rolled product (plate, sheet and coil Tube) in ASTM A213/A213M. Similar but not necessarily identical properties are specified for other products such as pipe and bar in their respective specifications.

Chemical Composition

Typical compositional ranges for grade 304 stainless steel are given in table 1.

Table 1. Composition ranges for 304 grade stainless steel

Grade C Mn Si P S Cr Mo Ni N
304 min.max. -0.08 -2.0 -0.75 -0.045 -0.030 18.020.0 - 8.010.5 -0.10
304L min.max. -0.030 -2.0 -0.75 -0.045 -0.030 18.020.0 - 8.012.0 -0.10
304H min.max. 0.040.10 -2.0 -0.75 -0.045 -0.030 18.020.0 - 8.010.5 -

Mechanical Properties

Typical mechanical properties for grade 304 stainless steels are given in table 2.

Table 2. Mechanical properties of 304 grade stainless steel

Grade Tensile Strength (MPa) min Yield Strength 0.2% Proof (MPa) min Elongation (% in 50mm) min Hardness
Rockwell B (HR B) max Brinell (HB) max
304 515 205 40 92 201
304L 485 170 40 92 201
304H 515 205 40 92 201
304H also has a requirement for a grain size of ASTM No 7 or coarser.

Physical Properties

Typical physical properties for annealed grade 304 stainless steels are given in table 3.

Table 3. Physical properties of 304 grade stainless steel in the annealed condition

Grade Density (kg/m3) Elastic Modulus (GPa) Mean Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (mm/m/°C) Thermal Conductivity (W/m.K) Specific Heat 0-100°C (J/kg.K) Electrical Resistivity (nW.m)
0-100°C 0-315°C 0-538°C at 100°C at 500°C
304/L/H 8000 193 17.2 17.8 18.4 16.2 21.5 500 720

Grade Specification Comparison

Approximate grade comparisons for 304 stainless steels are given in table 4.

Table 4. Grade specifications for 304 grade stainless steel

Grade UNS No Old British Euronorm Swedish SS Japanese JIS
BS En No Name
304 S30400 304S31 58E 1.4301 X5CrNi18-10 2332 SUS 304
304L S30403 304S11 - 1.4306 X2CrNi19-11 2352 SUS 304L
304H S30409 304S51 - 1.4948 X6CrNi18-11 - -
These comparisons are approximate only. The list is intended as a comparison of functionally similar materials not as a schedule of contractual equivalents. If exact equivalents are needed original specifications must be consulted.

Possible Alternative Grades

Possible alternative grades to grade 304 stainless steels are given in table 5.

Table 5. Possible alternative grades to 304 grade stainless steel tube

Grade Why it might be chosen instead of 304
301L A higher work hardening rate grade is required for certain roll formed or stretch formed components.
302HQ Lower work hardening rate is needed for cold forging of screws, bolts and rivets.
303 Higher machinability needed, and the lower corrosion resistance, formability and weldability are acceptable.
316 Higher resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion is required, in chloride environments
321 Better resistance to temperatures of around 600-900°C is needed…321 has higher hot strength.
3CR12 A lower cost is required, and the reduced corrosion resistance and resulting discolouration are acceptable.
430 A lower cost is required, and the reduced corrosion resistance and fabrication characteristics are acceptable.

Corrosion Resistance

Excellent in a wide range of atmospheric environments and many corrosive media. Subject to pitting and crevice corrosion in warm chloride environments, and to stress corrosion cracking above about 60°C. Considered resistant to potable water with up to about 200mg/L chlorides at ambient temperatures, reducing to about 150mg/L at 60°C.

Aqueous
As a rough guide the following examples are given for certain pure acid-water mixtures-

Temperature oC 20 80
Concentration, % by mass 10     20      40      60       80       100 10     20      40      60       80       100
Sulphuric Acid 2       2        2        2         1          0  2       2        2        2        2         2 
Nitric Acid 0       0        0        0         2          0 0       0        0        0        1         2
Phosphoric Acid 0       0        0        0         0          2 0       0        0        0        1         2
Formic Acid 0       0        0        0         0          0 0       1        2        2        1         0

 Key:         0 = resistant    -    corrosion rate less than 100 mm/year
                 1 = partly resistant    -    corrosion rate 100m to 1000 mm/year
                 2 = non resistant    - corrosion rate more than 1000 mm/year
 
Atmospheric

The performance of 304 compared with other metals in various environments is shown in the following table. The corrosion rates are based on a 10 year exposure.

Environment Corrosion Rate (mm/year)
SX 304 Aluminium-3S Mild Steel
Rural 0.0025 0.025 5.8
Marine 0.0076 0.432 34.0
Marine Industrial 0.0076 0.686 46.2

Thermal Processing

1.    AnnealingHeat from 1010oC to 1120oC and cool rapidly in air or water.  The best corrosion resistance is obtained when the final annealing is above 1070oC and cooling is rapid.

2.    Stress relieving.  SX 304L can be stress relieved at 450-600oC for one hour with little danger of sensitisation.  A lower stress relieving temperature of 400oC maximum must be used.

3.     Hot working
        Initial forging and pressing:                              1150  to 1260oC
        Finishing temperature:                                         900 to 925oC

All hot working operations should be followed by annealing.

Cold Working

304 / 304L being extremely tough and ductile, are readily fabricated by old working.  Typical operations include bending, forming, deep drawing and upsetting

Heat Resistance

Good oxidation resistance in intermittent service to 870°C and in continuous service to 925°C. Continuous use of 304 in the 425-860°C range is not recommended if subsequent aqueous corrosion resistance is important. Grade 304L is more resistant to carbide precipitation and can be heated into the above temperature range.

Grade 304H has higher strength at elevated temperatures so is often used for structural and pressure-containing applications at temperatures above about 500°C and up to about 800°C. 304H will become sensitised in the temperature range of 425-860°C; this is not a problem for high temperature applications, but will result in reduced aqueous corrosion resistance.

Heat Treatment

Solution Treatment (Annealing) – Heat to 1010-1120°C and cool rapidly. These grades cannot be hardened by thermal treatment.

Welding

Excellent weldability by all standard fusion methods, both with and without filler metals. AS 1554.6 pre-qualifies welding of 304 with Grade 308 and 304L with 308L rods or electrodes (and with their high silicon equivalents). Heavy welded sections in Grade 304 may require post-weld annealing for maximum corrosion resistance. This is not required for Grade 304L. Grade 321 may also be used as an alternative to 304 if heavy section welding is required and post-weld heat treatment is not possible.

Machining

A “Ugima” improved machinability version of grade 304 is available in bar products. “Ugima” machines significantly better than standard 304 or 304L, giving higher machining rates and lower tool wear in many operations.

Dual Certification

It is common for 304 and 304L to be stocked in “Dual Certified” form, particularly in plate and pipe. These items have chemical and mechanical properties complying with both 304 and 304L specifications. Such dual certified product does not meet 304H specifications and may be unacceptable for high temperature applications.

Applications

Typical applications include:

  • Food processing equipment, particularly in beer brewing, milk processing & wine making.
  • Kitchen benches, sinks, troughs, equipment and appliances
  • Architectural panelling, railings & trim
  • Chemical containers, including for transport
  • Heat Exchangers
  • Woven or welded screens for mining, quarrying & water filtration
  • Threaded fasteners
  • Springs