Your Guide to Stainless Steel Grades

Nobody can refute the significance of stainless steel products in everyday life. Stainless steel is simply the lifeline for resilient and aesthetically pleasing structures, hygienic healthcare facilities, sturdy corrosion-resistant appliances, and many other applications. Whether used as stainless steel sheet, coil, or angle, stainless steel also has a self-healing film whenever damage is caused chemically or mechanically.

The widespread usage of stainless steel products in the manufacturing and fabrication industries can be attributed to its distinctive physical and chemical properties that guarantee a long life cycle. Thus, it’s the perfect material for use in buildings, and it also carries the added benefit of environmental friendliness.

There are many interesting facts about stainless steel, including that it differs from regular steel. Unlike regular steel, stainless steel contains a sufficient amount of chromium, which forms a layer of chromium oxide on the surface and acts as a barrier to iron oxidation. Stainless steel can be alloyed with an infinite number of different combinations of elements. To better facilitate the identification of compounds used, stainless steel experts employed a classification system, which categorizes stainless steel into various grade types. Below are the different types of stainless steel grades and their specific applications across industries.

Grade 409:

409 stainless steel can be used as sheet, coil, plate, or bar and is composed of chromium and titanium. It belongs to the ferritic stainless steel family and maintains elevated temperature corrosion resistance, medium strength, and good formability. It is used mainly in automotive exhaust systems, mufflers, farm equipment, furnace components, structural support, or catalytic converters.

Grade 416:

This stainless steel grade is rich in chromium, phosphorus, and sulphur but is not recommended for use in temperatures that exceed 760°C. As a martensitic stainless steel, it is designed for high hardness but is highly restricted by its loss of ductility at zero temperatures and loss of strength by over-tempering at high temperatures. Its weldability is also poor, but the process can be improved with the use of hydrogen electrodes. The most common application areas are washing machine parts, gears, pumps and motor shafts.

Grade 430:

This stainless steel type is ferritic and resembles the corrosion resistance properties of grade 304/304L. Some other characteristics are good formability and magnetic permeability. It is widely used in cookware and tableware, worktables, automotive trims, and kitchen exhaust hoods.

Grade 439:

This specific grade can be used in annealed or cold-formed conditions and in applications where grade 430 can be used. Its weldability is good due to the presence of titanium. It also has exlcellent corrosion resistance and outperforms grade 409 in oxidation. It is frequently used in exhaust system components and tubular manifolds.

Grade 303:

This type is regarded as the most readily machinable of all austenitic stainless steel grades due to the presence of sulphur. While sulphur improves machining, it also decreases corrosion resistance and toughness. The most common applications include screws, aircraft fittings, shafts, gears, or bushings.

Grade 304:

Considered the most versatile and widely used type of stainless steel, grade 304 consists of 18% chromium and 8% nickel. This grade is also ideal for heavy gauge components to improve weldability. 304 stainless steel is typically supplied in sheets, strips, bars, plates, pipes, coils or tubes. The most common applications are saucepans, screws, sinks, architectural paneling, tubing, and sanitary ware.

Grade 309:

This austenitic stainless steel grade was specifically designed for use in high-temperature corrosion resistance applications. With high chromium and low nickel content, it can be used in oxidizing, nitriding, cementing and thermal cycling applications. It can also be used in furnaces, paper mill equipment, petroleum refining, power generation, thermal processing, and waste treatment.

Grade 316:

The most important molybdenum-bearing grade right after stainless steel grade 304 is 316. 316 has actually higher corrosion resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion in chloride environments. It’s also readily brake or roll formed into a variety of parts for applications in the industrial, architectural, an transportation fields. With outstanding welding characteristics, it can be used in food preparation environments, laboratory equipment, boat fittings, heat exchangers, threaded fasteners and other industries.

Grade 410:

Grade 410 stainless steel is a general-purpose martensitic stainless steel that can be used for highly stressed parts by providing great corrosion resistance, high strength, and hardness. 410 stainless steel must be hardened, tempered, and polished to provide maximum corrosion protection. Some examples of applications that use alloy 410 most often include kitchen utensils, gas and steam turbine blades, dental and surgical instruments, and nozzles.

In reality, there are more than 3,500 different types of stainless steel, but the ones mentioned in this article are the most commonly used. These grades reflect the alloy’s durability, quality, and temperature resistance, which are indispensable characteristics original equipment manufacturers and metal fabricators rely on for their everyday work.

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