The Ultimate Guide for 203 Stainless Steel

203 Stainless Steel

We provide you with this comprehensive guide to give you all information you need to know about this versatile metal alloy.

From the history of 203 stainless steel to its composition and applications, this guide will help you gain a better understanding.

Let’s keep reading!

Understanding 203 Stainless Steel

Understanding 203 stainless steel

Of the many grades of stainless steel available, type 203 is one of the most common.

As one of the austenitic stainless steels, grade 203 contains a high percentage of chromium and nickel.

Its nickel and chromium content makes it resistant to many chemical agents, including chlorine, sulfuric acid, and nitric acid. As result, it won’t be affected by extreme temperatures and will be used in cryogenic applications often.

The History

Knowing its history throughout the years will help you understand how it has been used in different industries. As well as its properties and characteristics.

1930s 203 stainless steel was first developed in the 1930s by German metallurgist Friedrich Krupp AG.
World War II During World War II, the grade 203 SS was used to make weapons and other military equipment.
1950s In the 1950s, the 203 SS was used in the construction of bridges, ships, and other infrastructure projects.
1960s In the 1960s, it was used in medical equipment, as well as for cookware and kitchen appliances.
1970s In the 1970s, it was used to make industrial machinery and tools.
1980s In the 1980s, grade 203 was used to make automotive parts, such as exhaust systems and fuel tanks.
1990s In the 1990s, 203 SS was used in the construction of high-rise buildings.
2000s Around this year, grade 203 was used in the production of consumer products, like watches, jewelry, and more.
Present Day In the present day, 203 SS is used in a variety of industries and applications. It includes in food processing, chemical processing, and automotive components. The material is also used in architectural applications, as it is very easy to work with.


To help you determine if 203 stainless steel is suitable for your applications, we provide you its composition details.

Iron (Fe) 67.5-72.0%
Chromium (Cr) 17.0-19.0%
Nickel (Ni) 8.0-10.5%
Manganese (Mn) 1.0% max
Silicon (Si) 1.0% max
Phosphorus (P) 0.045% max
Sulfur (S) 0.030% max
Carbon (C) 0.08% max
Selenium (Se) 0.75% max
Nitrogen (N) 0.10% max

What are the Characteristics of 203 SS?

The 203 grade of stainless steel has a range of unique characteristics that make it a great choice for your projects. The following characteristics are:

  • Strength: Grade 203 exhibits good strength and excellent resistance to scaling and oxidation.
  • Machinability: Machining of 203 SS is done easily with conventional tools and techniques.
  • Heat Treatment: The material is heat treatable and can be hardened by cold working.
  • Weldability: It has good weldability and can be welded using all the common welding processes.
  • Formability: The 203 steel is easily formable and can be fabricated into complex shapes.
  • Excellent Resistance: It is resistant to general corrosion, pitting, and stress corrosion cracking caused by chloride solutions.
  • Magnetic Properties: The material is non-magnetic and can be used in applications where a magnetic response is undesirable.

Uses of 203 Stainless Steel

You can use this specific metal alloy for applications, ranging from chemical processing to automotive applications, and more.

Let’s now explore how it is actually used in a specific industry.

Food Proceesing

Food Processing

Food Grade 203 steel is often used in the food processing industry for a variety of tasks such as:

  • Making cooking utensils and kitchenware
  • Creating food-grade storage containers
  • Manufacturing food-grade tanks and vessels
  • Producing industrial food processing equipment
  • Storing and transporting food products
  • Creating food-grade shelving and racks
  • Manufacturing food-grade conveyors and conveyor components
  • Producing food-grade pumps and valves
  • Creating food-grade fan and blower blades
  • Making food-grade heat exchangers

Chemical Processing

Chemical Processing

In the chemical processing industry, the 203 stainless steel is used:

  • As a catalyst in chemical reactions
  • In reaction vessels and piping systems
  • In storage tanks and exhaust systems
  • In chemical processes heat exchangers
  • In evaporators and condensers
  • For pharmaceutical and food processing equipment
  • For chemical process pumps and valves
  • For mechanical seals and gaskets
  • For chemical process tanks and storage tanks

Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power

Grade 203 is used in several areas of the Nuclear Power industry, including:

  • Reactor pressure vessels: It is used to fabricate the pressure vessel walls, which contain the nuclear material and keep it safe in the reactor core.
  • Heat exchangers: Grade 203 is used to fabricate the tubes and shells of heat exchangers, which transfer heat from the reactor core to the cooling system.
  • Nuclear fuel cladding: The material is used to fabricate the cladding of fuel rods, which contain the nuclear material and keep it safe in the reactor core.
  • Control rods: It is used to fabricate the control rods, which are inserted and removed from the reactor core to control the rate of fission.
  • Fuel and waste storage tanks: 203 Steel is used to fabricate the walls of fuel and waste storage tanks.



One of the most popular grades of stainless steel used in the aerospace industry is grade 203.

Its particular uses in this industry are:

  • Aircraft airframe components: Grade 203 is used to manufacture aircraft airframe components, such as landing gear, fuselage frames, and engine mounts.
  • Aircraft engine parts: The material is used to make parts for engines, including combustion chambers, exhaust systems, and fuel pumps.
  • Fasteners: It is used to manufacture bolts, nuts, and other fasteners used in the aerospace industry.
  • Fluid-handling components: This type of stainless steel is used to manufacture components that handle fluids, such as valves and pumps.
  • Heat exchangers: It is also used to make heat exchangers for aircraft engines.
  • Fuel cells: Grade 203 is used to make fuel cells for aircraft.



Here are the uses of 203 stainless steel in the automotive industry:

  • Exhaust systems: The grade 203 is ideal for use in the manufacturing of exhaust systems, as it helps reduce corrosion and improve durability.
  • Body panels: 203 can be used for body panels, as it offers superior strength without adding weight.
  • Engine components: It is often used for fabricating pistons, connecting rods, and valves.
  • Brake components: Grade 203 is used for brake discs and brake calipers, due to its superior resistance to heat and wear.
  • Shocks: It is often used for shocks and suspension components, as they can withstand the high temperatures and forces generated during use.
  • Fuel lines: 203 stainless steel is often used for fuel lines due to its ability to withstand high temperatures.



Grade 203 has excellent heat and wear resistance making it a great choice for marine applications. Its specific uses in the marine industry include:

  • Marine propulsion systems: 203 is a common grade used in the construction of marine propulsion systems due to its high strength.
  • Marine structures: Grade 203 SS is used for the construction of various marine structures such as decks, hulls, and bulkheads.
  • Marine fittings: It is used in the manufacture of marine fittings such as valves, flanges, and pipes.
  • Marine vessels: The grade 203 is commonly used in the construction of tankers and barges.



The specific uses of grade 203 SS in the pharmaceuticals industry are:

  • Manufacturing of storage tanks and vessels: 203 is widely used for the manufacture of storage tanks and vessels used in the pharmaceutical field.
  • Production of reaction vessels: The 203 material can be used in making reaction vessels that are used to store the flow of pharmaceutical ingredients.
  • Manufacturing of process equipment: This stainless steel can be used in the production of process equipment such as autoclaves, sterilizers, and distillation columns.
  • Production of medical instruments: 203 is used in the production of medical instruments such as scalpels and forceps.
  • Manufacturing of drug delivery systems: This stainless steel can be used for pumps production and injection systems.

Maintenance Guidelines

To ensure its maximum performance and longevity, it is important to follow a few simple maintenance guidelines.

The first step is to keep the steel clean. To do this, use a mild detergent, some warm water, and a soft cloth or sponge. For tougher dirt and grime, use a steel wool pad or a mild abrasive cleaner.

It’s also important to maintain the steel’s finish. Use a stainless steel polish. This will help to keep the steel’s finish looking bright and clean. Additionally, it will help to protect the steel from scratches and other signs of wear and tear.

Finally, it is important to check the steel for signs of corrosion. If the steel starts to show signs of corrosion, the area should be immediately treated with a corrosion inhibitor. This will help to prevent further corrosion and extend the life of the steel.

By following these simple maintenance guidelines, the 203 stainless steel should remain in prime condition for many years to come.

Processing Techniques

The stainless steel grade 203 can be used to create customized components that fit your exact specifications. Therefore, you need to determine the right processing techniques.

Now, here are the processing options for this metal alloy.



The annealing process involves heating the steel to between 1040-1120°C. Then cooling at a rate of 10-20°C per hour to below 650°C, followed by air cooling. It is important to keep the heat treatment temperature low and the cooling rate slow to avoid material embrittlement. After annealing, the steel should be pickled in an acid bath to remove any scale or oxides that may have formed during the process.

Cold Working

Cold Working

Cold working is a process by which the steel is shaped at temperatures below its recrystallization temperature. This process is often used to create parts with a desired shape, size, and strength. To cold work 203 steel, the following steps should be followed:

  1. Make sure the steel is clean. Use a chemical degreasing agent to remove any dirt, oils, or other contaminants.
  2. Preheat the steel to a temperature between 400°F and 900°F.
  3. Shape the steel by cold forming, stamping, or rolling.
  4. Allow the steel to cool slowly to room temperature.
  5. Finish the steel by heat treating, annealing, or hardening.

Hot Forming

Hot Forming

Hot forming of stainless steel 203 can be done by heating it to a temperature between 1150 and 1250°C. It is followed by shaping it into the desired form with a hammer or press. Then you need to cool the workpiece rapidly after forming to prevent the material from becoming too soft and losing its strength.

After hot forming, the stainless steel should be annealed to restore its original properties.

Pickling and Passivation

Pickling and Passivation

This process can be done using the following steps:

  1. Clean the surface of the material with a wire brush or chemical cleaner.
  2. Create a pickling bath by mixing an acid solution of nitric or hydrofluoric acid and water.
  3. Submerge the stainless steel in the pickling bath for a few minutes and then rinse it with water.
  4. Passivate the 203 steel by immersing it in a solution of sodium dichromate and water.
  5. Rinse it with water to remove any residual chemicals.
  6. Inspect the stainless steel to ensure that it is free of corrosion and contamination.



  • Start by preparing the surface of the 203 steel by removing any dirt. Then use a grinder to remove any slag and create a smooth surface.
  • Choose the most ideal welding procedure. Common processes used are TIG welding, MIG welding, and Stick welding.
  • Set up the welding machine and adjust the settings according to the type of welding process being used.
  • Select the correct welding rod and make sure that the diameter of the rod is appropriate for the steel thickness. Then start welding.
  • Once the weld is complete, use a grinder to remove any excess weld material.
  • If any irregularities are found, re-weld the area.
  • Clean the weld area with a brush and then use a stainless steel polish for a smooth finish.

Laser Cutting

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is a very common process in many industrial applications. This process involves the use of a laser beam to cut through the material, creating a precise cut edge.

Here are the step-by-step to laser cut the 203 steel:

  1. Prepare the design that needs to be laser-cut on the material.
  2. Clean it to ensure there is no dirt or dust on the surface before laser cutting.
  3. Secure the stainless steel to the laser-cutting bed with clamps.
  4. Set the laser strength, speed, and focus to the appropriate settings for the material.
  5. Place the laser pointer on the starting point of the design and start the laser-cutting process.
  6. Move the laser pointer along the design, adjusting the focus and speed as necessary.
  7. Once the laser cutting is complete, remove the stainless steel from the laser cutting bed and inspect the results.
  8. Polish the edges of the cut steel to create a professional finish.

Estimated Prices

You should know the estimated price of 203 stainless steel because it is a widely used material that is important for many industries.

Knowing the estimated price can help you make brief decisions before purchasing and using the material.

By Thickness In USD Per Square Foot
0.018” $3.25
0.024” $3.68
0.030” $4.10
0.036” $4.53
0.048” $5.20
0.060” $5.87
0.075” $6.90
0.090” $7.92
0.105” $8.94
0.120” $9.97

203 Stainless Steel vs 304

Two of the most common alloys on the market, grade 304 and grade 203, have some subtle differences which can have a major impact on a project.

Grade 203 is a type of stainless steel produced in accordance with the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) standards. It is a grade that is specifically designed for use in the manufacture of watches, clocks, and other precision instruments. It is usually composed of 18-20% chromium, 8-10% nickel, and 0.15-0.25% molybdenum. It also contains manganese and nitrogen.

304 is the most common alloy grade used worldwide due to its high value. It contains between 16 and 24% chromium and up to 35% nickel, as well as small amounts of carbon and manganese. Grade 304 is most commonly used in the food and beverage industry, cryogenic applications, and oil and gas production.

In conclusion, grade 203 is a cheaper alternative to grade 304, but it is not as strong. Depending on the specific application, either grade could be the better choice.


We have discussed the properties of 203 stainless steel, processing techniques, and maintenance guidelines. We’re hoping all the important information helps you determine if it is really suitable for your specific projects.

If you make your final decision to purchase durable stainless steel in 203 grade, we can assist with your orders. Feel free to reach out!

One Stop Stainless Steel Supply.

Whether you need stainless steel materials for your business or fabrication projects, TuoLian is your best supplier. You can find all types, grades, and thicknesses based on your needs. Guaranteed that we provide the best quality at a reasonable cost.
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