Choosing the right metal for your application is a crucial piece of the puzzle. With various materials to select between, understanding even the basic specifications is a must. For example, 303 stainless steel has strong corrosion-resistance, which proves valuable for bearings among other components. On the other side, 304 stainless provides even higher levels of corrosion-resistance with low carbon content.
While the similarities are close, the differences in machinability can make or break the task at hand.
If machinability is the foremost priority, the addition of sulfur is your answer. And, 303 offers just that. Furthermore, 303 maintains the mechanical and corrosion-resistance properties common to stainless steel. With controlled amounts of manganese sulfides, machining chips become less of a concern as well.
However, due to the high sulfur content, 303 is not easily welded like 304 stainless steel. Thus, 303 is not manufactured as sheet metal, tube, or angles.
304 stainless steel is noted for its higher levels of chromium and nickel content. This content provides above average corrosion-resistance. Because of this, 304 has become a top choice for applications that come in contact with water or chemicals, such as food preparation surfaces.
However, it’s important to note the one exception to 304s superior corrosion-resistance property – contact with chlorine or chloride solutions. If salt or other similar solutions penetrate the material, pitting will occur. The chromium layer erodes, leaving the inner steel layers exposed.
When deciding whether 303 stainless steel or 304 is best, one must consider the specific application at hand. Where 303 is designed to handle machining applications, 304 is better for welding. Either way, Alliant Metals has the solution your job requires.
For more information, contact our team today by calling (800) 543-1453.