Stainless steel is one of the four most common metals used in construction and manufacturing, right alongside carbon steel, aluminum and copper. Given this, it’s almost guaranteed that manufacturing companies will work with this durable, corrosion-resistant metal.
And stainless steel grades, like most other metals like nickel and aluminum bronze grades, are sorted by numbers. And after a while, all these numbers can become confusing ? especially if you’re a newcomer to the field.
Is your manufacturing firm using the right grades of steel for its products? Find out with this quick rundown of the most common grades of steel ? there are more than 150, after all! ? so you at least have a handle on the basics:
Stainless Steel 304
The No. 1 most common grade of stainless steel, Stainless Steel 304 is the stainless steel you’ll find in everyday objects around the house such as kitchen appliances and equipment, screws, machinery and more. If you see stainless that’s labeled “304 Cond B,” this indicates 304 Condition B ? a strained, hardened variant of 304 that’s stronger and more resilient.
Stainless Steel 409
The cheapest of the stainless steel grades, 409 is most often seen in car exhausts. With 11% chromium content, 409 is extremely resistant to rusting, but isn’t 100% rust-proof ? which is why you’ll sometimes see a coating of rust on the exhaust pipes of older cars. It also has a shorter lifespan than 304, lasting just eight to 10 years while 304 can easily last more than a decade.
Stainless Steel 904L
Ever wondered what grade the stainless steel in your watch is? It might be 904L, which is an alloy high in chromium and nickel. Rolex has used this grade of stainless steel in its watches since 1985 because of its higher level of polish and greater resistance to corrosion than other stainless steel grades. Other common applications for 904L include piping systems, pollution control equipment, heat exchanges and bleaching systems, as well as anywhere strong acids are in use.
While these grades of stainless steel are all worth knowing about, it’s also important to understand the roles the role of other metals like monel and inconel, as well as alloys that offer various advantages over pure metals. Whatever your question about manufacturing metals, we’re happy to answer it.