The differences between stainless steels: a comparison between AISI 304 and AISI 316

15 February 2023
The differences between stainless steels: a comparison between AISI 304 and AISI 316

Did you know that stainless steel is the set of those steel families that have at least 11% chromium? And it is precisely chromium that provides this material with its well-known characteristic of corrosion resistance.

Chromium, in fact, reacting to its environment creates a thin protective layer that protects the material from further corrosive attacks. At the same time, other elements such as molybdenum, nickel and titan enable stainless steel to be easily machined (bent, welded, stamped), thus allowing it to be used in many fields.

There are two types of stainless steel or, as we more commonly call it, stainless steel: AISI 304, to which nickel and chromium are added, and AISI 316, to which nickel, chromium, and molybdenum (2-3%) are added. 

What are the main differences between the two stainless steels?

The main difference between these two types of steel is that, unlike AISI 304, AISI 316 contains molybdenum. This implies that AISI 304 stainless steel products can be used both indoors and outdoors, but only if they are not placed in excessively polluted environments, such as urban and coastal areas or places where extremely corrosive chemicals are used.

AISI 316 stainless steel products, on the other hand, are more resistant to corrosion due to the presence of molybdenum. This is why they are highly recommended in environments considered 'difficult' and with a high risk of corrosion, such as marine environments or those characterised by the presence of hydrochloric acid, sand and high humidity levels and heavy pollution. This is why AISI 316 stainless steel is the steel of choice for the chemical, petrochemical, food and pharmaceutical industries.

Which stainless steels does IRINOX use for its products?

For its electrical enclosures IRINOX chooses to process the most special versions of these two stainless steels: AISI 304L and AISI 316L. The addition of the final letter "L" indicates that the carbon content is less than 0.035%, which prevents the precipitation of chromium carbides and is therefore even more resistant to corrosion.

Discover the wide range of IRINOX products in AISI 304L and AISI 316L stainless steel! >