What’s the Difference Between 316 and 316L Stainless Steel?

There are quite a few varieties of stainless steel available for your production needs. If you’re new to selecting steels, then it might be confusing to tell the difference between them. We’ll take a look at two similar stainless steels, 316 and 316L, and explain the difference, so you know what to choose for your next project.

The L in 316L stainless steel denotes a lower carbon content. This is the primary difference between the stainless steels. A lower carbon content makes 316L softer than 316 stainless steel. This leads to a variety of differences in its machinability, weldability, and corrosion resistance.

316L stainless steel is weld friendly. You can weld it to other steels or metals without issue, and form what shapes you need for your project. On the other hand, 316 stainless steel is susceptible to weld decay. This means the welded area can be more vulnerable to corrosion, weakening the bond of the weld.

Both varieties of stainless steel are very malleable. They’re useful for forming into the necessary shapes for your project without cracking or breaking. Once formed, both types have corrosion resistance and high tensile strength.

316L stainless steel is more corrosion resistant than 316 stainless steel. In everyday applications, you may not notice a difference. However, due to its weldability, 316L is seen as the better option for corrosion resistance. Welding 316 stainless steel will require annealing, while 316L will still be useful against corrosion without any additional steps.

If 316L has better corrosion resistance, why would anyone choose 316 stainless steel? The price for the two types is usually comparable, but 316 usually has better mechanic properties. This means it has higher tensile strength, is harder, and is more ductile than 316L. When choosing between these steels, you need to keep in mind what the purpose of the steel will be.

Contact Alliant Metals today to learn what kind of stainless steel is right for your needs. We’ll help you choose the perfect steel and get started right away!

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