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304 vs 304L Stainless Steel Casting

Stainless steel offer corrosion resistance, and investment casting of stainless steel can creat stainless steel parts with complex shapes while good surface finish and size accuracy. There are many types of stainless steel casting grades that can be used in investment casting process, such as 304(L), 316(L), 17-4 ph, 2205, etc. Among them, 304 and 304L are the basic stainless steel casting grades.

When selecting 304 or 304L for stainless steel casting, it may be difficult for many customers to decide. To help our customers understand 304 stainless steel castings and 304L stainless steel castings better, here we introduce the difference of these two types in detail.

304 vs 304L Stainless Steel Casting

304 & 304L Stainless Steel Composition Comparison

Element Type 304 (%) Type 304L (%)
Carbon 0.08 max. 0.03 max.
Manganese 2.00 max. 2.00 max.
Phosphorus 0.045 max. 0.045 max.
Sulfur 0.03 max. 0.03 max.
Silicon 0.75 max. 0.75 max.
Chromium 18.00-20.00 18.00-20.00
Nickel 8.00-10.50 8.00-12.00
Nitrogen 0.10 max. 0.10 max.
Iron Balance Balance

304 Stainless Steel Casting

Type 304 is the most widely used austenitic stainless steel casting grade. It is also known as “18/8” stainless steel because of its composition, which includes 18% chromium and 8% nickel. Type 304 stainless steel has good castability as well as strong corrosion resistance and strength. This kind of stainless steel also has good forgeability. It can be drop forged into a variety of shapes.

Common uses for 304 stainless steel castings are found in the food industry. It’s ideal for meat grinder, animal feed machine, and so on. 304 stainless steel casting is also suitable for creating pipeline fittings.​

Besides, 304 stainless steel castings are also found in other applications, such as ashtray, etc. Other areas of 304 stainless steel castings use include architecture, chemical industry, mining equipment, as well as mining and water filtration systems and in the dyeing industry.

304L Stainless Steel Casting

Type 304L stainless steel is an extra-low carbon version of 304 stainless steel. The lower carbon content in 304L minimizes deleterious or harmful carbide precipitation as a result of welding. 304L stainless steel castings can be welded in severe corrosion environments, and it eliminates the need for annealing.

Compared with 304 stainless steel castings, 304L stainless steel castings have slightly lower mechanical properties, but is still widely used due to its versatility. 304L stainless steel castings are commonly used in beer-brewing and wine-making equipments, but also for purposes beyond the food industry such as in chemical containers, mining, and construction.

In summary, both 304 and 304L stainless steel castings can be used for many of the same applications. The differences are often minor enough that one isn’t considered massively more useful over the other. When stronger corrosion resistance is needed, 316 stainless steel castings are usually considered as an alternative.

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