The Ultimate Guide for 301 Stainless Steel

301 Stainless Steel

This guide is designed to provide you with an in-depth understanding of the properties and applications of 301 stainless steel. We will cover its advantages and disadvantages, how it is manufactured and formed, and its common applications.

With this guide, you will be able to make an informed decision when selecting a stainless steel product for specific requirements.

Let’s dive in!

What is Type 301 Stainless Steel?

How Magnetic Does 301 Stainless Steel

The 301 stainless steel is a type of stainless steel alloy which is specially formulated for maximum ductility, strength, and corrosion protection. It is a common stainless steel grade, also known as 18/8 or A2 stainless steel.

It contains chromium-nickel and other metals, which makes it resistant to oxidation, rust, and other forms of corrosion. It is normally used in applications that require strength such as in cookware, cutlery, and appliances – to name a few.

The 301 grade also has the following mechanical and physical properties.

Mechanical Properties

Mechanical Properties Imperial Metric
Yield Strength 45 ksi 310 MPa
Ultimate tensile strength 120 ksi 827 MPa
Elongation to break 60 percent 60 percent
Rockwell Hardness B86 B86

Physical Properties

Density lbm/in3 0.29
Thermal Expansion (min/in)-°F) at 68 – 212°F = 9.2, at 68 – 932°F = 10.4 and at 68 – 1450°F = 10.9
Electrical Resistivity ( mW-in) at 68°F = 28.3, at 212°F = 30.7, at 392°F = 33.8
Thermal conductivity (BTU/hr-ft-°F) at 68 – 212°F = 9.4
Melting Range 2550 to 2590°F


Knowing the composition of the material helps to ensure that the desired properties are achieved.

Below, we provide the exact compositions of type 301 stainless steel. Please take it into consideration.

Iron Balance
Chromium 16-18%
Nickel 6-8%
Manganese 2%
Carbon 0.15%
Silicon 1%
Sulfur 0.03%
Phosphorus 0.045%
Selenium 0.15-0.30%

The Advantages of Using 301 Stainless Steel

The Advantages of Using 301 Stainless Steel

There are several reasons why 301 stainless steel is one of the widely used materials in the metal industry.

Its primary advantage is its high level of resistance against any corrosion forms. The chromium and nickel content in this steel alloy provides it with excellent corrosion resistance in a variety of environments. This includes those containing chlorides, sulfuric acid, and other harsh chemicals. No wonder it is ideal for applications that require a higher level of corrosion resistance.

The high strength and hardness of this alloy also make it a great option for various applications. It is able to withstand high levels of stress and wear. Making it ideal for components that will be exposed to constant wear and tear. Additionally, its formability makes it easy to shape and form into complex shapes and sizes. Therefore, it’s a great choice for parts that need to fit into tight spaces.

Finally, 301 stainless steel is also cost-effective. While it is more expensive than other alloys, its strength and durability make it a great investment. It is also more cost-effective than other types of metal for many applications, especially for applications that require frequent use. Moreover, because it is so strong and durable, it can be used in applications where other metals would not be able to withstand the same amount of stress or wear. This makes it a top choice for projects where budget is a concern.

How About the Disadvantages?

Just like other alloys, there are some disadvantages to using this grade 301.

One thing to worry about is its cost. It is more expensive than other types of stainless steel. Also, it can be hard to justify the price when compared to the other materials’ costs.

Another disadvantage is that it can be difficult to work with. It can be hard to cut, form, and weld due to its high strength and work-hardening properties. It is also harder to machine, unlike other alloys.

301 stainless steel is also susceptible to stress corrosion cracking, which can occur when the material is exposed to an environment with a combination of high temperature and high chloride concentrations.

Finally, it is not a good choice for applications that need high temperatures. It becomes brittle when exposed to temperatures above 800°F (427°C).

Professional Maintenance

The 301 stainless steel needs professional, regular maintenance to ensure its longevity and optimal performance.

Learn about the simple steps you can do.

  • The first step is to clean it regularly. Cleaning should be done with mild soap and water, followed by wiping the surface with a soft cloth or paper towel. For tougher jobs, use a stainless steel cleaner and a soft-bristled brush. Avoid using steel wool or abrasive cleaners, as these can cause permanent damage to the surface of the steel.
  • The second step is to inspect it regularly for any signs of corrosion or wear. If corrosion or wear is present, it is important to repair or replace the affected area immediately. In addition, the area should be resealed with a corrosion-resistant compound to prevent further damage.
  • The next step is to protect it from physical damage. Wear protective clothing and safety gear when handling the steel. You also need to use appropriate tools to avoid scratching or denting the surface. If physical damage occurs, it should be addressed immediately.
  • Finally, the sixth step in maintaining 301 stainless steel professionally is to apply a protective coating. Protective coatings can help protect the steel from oxidation. Applying a protective coating can also extend the life of the steel, ensuring it will remain in top condition for many years.

For professional assistance, you can always contact us. But if you need replacements, we at Tuolian offer a wide range of high-quality 301 stainless steel and other alloys.

Manufacturing Techniques

Understand the different manufacturing techniques for your 301 stainless steel. And determine the proper technique for your fabrication projects.

Hot Rolling

Hot rolling

Hot rolling is a metalworking process in which metal is heated to above its recrystallization temperature and then rolled into sheets or bars. The process of hot rolling 301 stainless steel is a common industrial technique. It is used to create shapes and components from large pieces of metal.

The process of hot rolling begins with the preparation of the material, which is typically heated to a temperature above its recrystallization point. The steel is then fed into the hot rolling mill, where it is compressed between two large rolls. As the rolls turn, the pressure of the rolls causes the steel to deform, forming it into a desired shape or profile. The end product is typically much thinner than the original material and may be further processed, such as with cold rolling, to achieve the desired thickness. Hot rolling is a cost-effective process that can produce large quantities of parts efficiently.

Cold Rolling

Cold Rolling

Cold rolling is a process used to reduce steel thickness or other metals. It is used to create a smoother surface and improve the material strength.

The cold rolling process involves passing the steel through a series of rollers at a temperature lower than its recrystallization temperature.

The steel is fed into the rollers in a flat sheet and is compressed between the rollers in order to reduce the thickness. The rollers are carefully calibrated in order to ensure an even thickness of the material throughout. The steel is then cut into strips and coils.



Annealing 301 stainless steel is a process used to partially melt the material in order to improve its formability and ductility.

This process is accomplished by heating the steel to a temperature below its recrystallization temperature. And then cooling it slowly to room temperature. During the process, the steel’s microstructure is changed, causing a decrease in tensile strength while increasing its ductility. Annealing is a critical step in the manufacturing process of 301 steel to ensure it meets the necessary mechanical and chemical properties.

The annealing typically begins with slow steel heating to a temperature between 1550-1650°F (843-899°C). The steel is then held at this temperature for a period of time, allowing it to slowly cool to a temperature below its recrystallization temperature.

Once the steel has cooled to room temperature, it is ready for further processing.



Pickling is an important process used to remove surface contamination. It is typically done using hydrochloric or nitric acid, which is applied to the surface of the steel with a brush/sprayer. The acid reacts with the contaminants on the surface, breaking them down into smaller molecules that can be washed away. This process can be done manually or with chemical pickling solutions.

During the pickling process, it is important to monitor the acid concentrations and temperature closely. This ensures that the steel is not subjected to too much acid or heat, which can damage the steel.

Once the pickling process is complete, the steel should be rinsed thoroughly with clean water and then dried. After drying, the steel may require additional treatments such as passivation or annealing.


The hardening process increases the steel’s strength and hardness by subjecting it to a heat-treatment process. The process involves heating the steel to a temperature range between 900°F and 1250°F, followed by cooling it quickly.

The hardness of the steel is determined by the amount of carbon contained in the alloy. Higher carbon content increases the hardness of the steel, while lower carbon content decreases it. The hardness of 301 stainless steel is typically higher than that of other stainless steel due to its higher carbon content.

Hardening can be a beneficial process when used in the right application. It can improve the wear resistance, fatigue strength, and toughness of the steel. Making it useful for applications that require superior strength.



Electropolishing is an electrochemical process used to improve the surface finish of metals such as 301 stainless steel. It is a controlled anodic dissolution of the metal surface, which produces a smooth, bright surface. This process removes imperfections and sharp edges, improving the wear resistance of the material.

The process involves immersing the metal in a bath of electrolyte solution and applying a current between the metal and a cathode. The current causes the surface of the material to dissolve, removing imperfections and sharp edges. The electrolyte solution also helps to passivate the metal surface, making it more resistant to rusting.



Passivation is the process of treating stainless steel with a chemical solution to remove free iron particles that may be present on the surface. The purpose of passivation is to increase the corrosion safety of the stainless steel. Making it last longer and perform better in certain environments.

The process begins by cleaning the surface with a detergent-based cleaner designed to remove any contaminants, such as oil and grease, from the surface. The surface is then rinsed with deionized water to further remove any residual contaminants. Then the surface is treated with a chemical solution that typically includes nitric acid, hydrofluoric acid, and citric acid. This solution is left on the surface for a period of time and then rinsed off with deionized or distilled water.

After the passivation process is done, the surface of the stainless steel should have a thin, protective oxide layer that helps to resist corrosion.



When machining grade 301 steel, it is important to use the right tools and speeds. High-speed steel (HSS) tools are recommended, as they are more resistant to heat and wear. For turning, a feed rate of 0.004 to 0.008 inches per revolution is recommended. For drilling, a feed rate of 0.008 to 0.012 inches per revolution is recommended.

It is also important to use coolant to keep the cutting tool cool and to reduce friction. This can help to reduce wear on the cutting tool. Also can improve the surface finish of the workpiece.

Most important, you should use the correct cutting speed. The cutting speed should be kept low enough to avoid heat build-up. Too high of a cutting speed may cause the workpiece to become hard and difficult to machine.

Common Applications

Are you curious about where particular 301 stainless steel is used?

Here, we list down its possible applications.

  • Automotive Exhaust Systems: Grade 301 is used in the exhaust systems of cars and trucks due to its high rusting resistance and extreme strength.
  • Home Appliances: 301 stainless steel is commonly used in the construction of many home appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances.
  • Kitchenware: You can possibly use the 301 steel for manufacturing kitchenware products such as cookware, cutlery, flatware, and serving dishes.
  • Architectural Applications: The material is also used in various architectural applications due to its aesthetic appeal and high durability.
  • Chemical Processing Equipment: You can use the 301 steel in the construction of various pieces of chemical processing equipment.
  • Medical Devices: The 301 stainless steel is used in producing many medical devices due to its high strength and non-magnetism characteristics.

Stainless 301 vs 304

Stainless 301 vs 304

There are multiple types of stainless steel, and two of the widely used varieties are grade 301 and grade 304.

The two types are very similar but have some key differences that can affect performance in different ways. Grade 301 stainless steel can better withstand mechanical force. This is because of its higher carbon content (0.15% compared to 304’s 0.08% by weight). Therefore it is excellent where strength and wear resistance are crucial. You can use it on fabricating springs, fasteners, and high-pressure hoses.

On the other hand, grade 304 stainless steel is the most versatile stainless steel alloy. It offers excellent weldability, formability, and ductility. It is suitable for a wide range of applications due to its high-temperature resistance and ease of fabrication. This specific grade is frequently used in kitchen and food applications, as it is easy to maintain.

Overall, grade 304 is the most versatile and widely used stainless steel alloy. While grade 301 is typically used in high temperatures and high-pressure applications. But in terms of weldability and formability, they are working great.

Which is the Better: 301 VS 316?

When it comes to stainless steel, there are two main types – 301 and 316. Both of these steels have their own unique properties and characteristics. So it really depends on what you need it for.

Here is a comparison of the two stainless steels to help you decide which is the better option.

301 316
Strength and durability 301 SS is generally seen as being slightly weaker. It is heat-resistant up to 850 degrees Celsius. While 316 SS can withstand temperatures up to 1200 degrees Celsius. This makes it more suitable for applications that require higher temperatures.
Level of chemical resistance Both 301 and 316 stainless steel display excellent protection against corrosive elements. But grade 316 is known to offer better resistance to marine environments. As well as chemical and other corrosive environments.
Cost Slightly cheaper The additional cost of grade 316 is worth it for its superior strength.
Ideal Applications 301 SS is ideal for applications that require increased strength and ductility, such as aircraft parts and fasteners. Whereas 316 SS is better for medical, marine, and food-grade applications.

In conclusion, both of these steel types are extremely durable. Your decision should be based on the specific application requirements.

201 vs 301 Comparison

When it comes to choosing between 201 and 301 stainless steel, it’s important to understand the differences between the two alloys.

Both 201 and 301 stainless steels are austenitic grades that are commonly used in the production of a variety of products. While both alloys possess similar mechanical properties, they vary significantly in their chemical composition and in their physical properties.

Chemical Composition Differences

From a chemical composition perspective, 201 stainless steel contains 17.00–19.00% chromium, 6.00–8.00% nickel, 4.00–7.00% manganese, and up to 0.15% nitrogen.

While 301 stainless steel contains 17.00–19.00% chromium, 7.00–9.00% nickel, up to 0.20% carbon, and up to 1.00% manganese. As such, the chemical makeup of 201 and 301 stainless steels may make them more suitable for certain applications than others.

Physical Perspective Differences

From a physical perspective, 201 stainless steel has a lower hardness and tensile strength than 301. This is due to the lower amount of nickel present in its chemical composition. Additionally, the lower carbon content of 201 makes it slightly less magnetic than its 301 counterparts.

Price Range

You need to know the price range of the material because it can help you determine the cost of your project.

The cost of 301 stainless steel can vary depending on the thickness.

Here is the estimated price range for you so you can have an idea.

By Thickness Estimated Price Range
0.3mm-3mm $2.00-$4.00/kg
3mm-6mm $3.50-$5.00/kg
6mm-10mm $4.50-$6.00/kg
10mm-20mm $5.50-$7.00/kg
20mm-30mm $6.50-$8.00/kg
30mm-50mm $7.50-$9.00/kg

How Magnetic 301 SS?

301 stainless steel contains 17-19% chromium and 7-9% nickel, making it a ferromagnetic material. As result, it became ideal for a wide range of fabrication projects.

Additionally, due to its high chromium and nickel content, 301 steel is highly magnetic. Its magnetic properties are due to its face-centered cubic (FCC) crystal structure, which makes it highly susceptible to magnetic fields. However, it contains a small amount of iron, which further increases its magnetic properties.

Its magnetic properties make it suitable for applications where magnetic properties are needed. This can be included in fabricating motors, generators, and transformers.

Is 301 Stainless Steel Food Grade?

Yes, the material is food grade. This stainless steel alloy is non-toxic, making it a great choice for food processing and preparation. In addition to being food-grade, it is also highly resistant to staining and rusting.

301 stainless steel is really an ideal choice for food-grade applications.


You can purchase 301 stainless steel materials in different hardness conditions such as:

  • Full Hard 301 Stainless Steel. Full hard is a grade 301 variety that provides good hardness and also toughness. It has 140,000 psi yield strength and 185,000 psi tensile strength.
  • 1/4 hard 301 Stainless Steel. It offers good formability and can provide a tensile strength of 125,000 psi and yield strength of 75,000 psi.
  • 301 1/2 hard Stainless Steel. The 1/2 hard temper of 301 grades offers 110,000 psi yield strength and 150,000 psi for its tensile strength.

The Welding Process

The Welding Process

Welding 301-grade steel is possible, but it requires special attention and care.

This steel is known to be difficult to weld due to its high carbon content and hardening properties. It is important to use the right welding techniques and materials to successfully weld this material.

Here are the commonly used methods for welding this steel.

  • MIG Welding: Requires special shielding gases and the use of an argon-rich mix. This type is ideal for welding thin sheets of stainless steel. It is considered to be the most reliable and efficient when welding the material.
  • TIG welding: This process is best for welding thicker sections of stainless steel. It is also known to produce a higher-quality weld. TIG welding takes more time and skill than MIG welding, so it is important to make sure the welder is properly trained.

It is important to take into account the material thickness being welded. Consider also the welder’s skill level to determine the best welding process for a successful weld. Additionally, preheating the material before welding can help to reduce the risk of warping and cracking.


Now, you have gained an understanding of 301 stainless steel advantages, its applications, and its properties.  No wonder why it is a popular choice for many applications.

If you find it very suitable for your projects, you can always count on our services.

Contact our team today!

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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